The Patent Office has taken a number of steps in the last year or so toward transparency, approachability, and clarity. It recently released the Patent Dashboard, or “Data Visualization Center.” The Dashboard is a simple display of the average time it takes to get to various milestones in the patenting process. The data is clear to read, but gruesome to contemplate. As I previously noted, the typical amount of time between filing and receiving a first response from the Patent Office runs between 2 and 4 years; the Dashboard shows that it averages 35.4 months, or just under 3 years.
Some have criticized the Patent Office for admitting the horrible state the patent system is in. I think, however, that this Dashboard represents another progressive step. The PTO recently created the Inventor’s Eye, a newsletter for the inventor community. A number of months ago, it developed and then expanded the Green Tech Accelerated Pilot Program. Under the significant budgetary burdens that the PTO faces, these are real gains.