Huge patent backlog saps research and startup energy

| Print |  Email
Sunday, March 01, 2009

STATEWIDE The staggering 770,000 patent backlog at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is sapping the energy behind research development and startups in Oregon. The backlog means applicants must wait several years to see if their patents will be approved.


“Patent protection is essential to providing incentive to private investors to get through the development phase,” says Don Gerhart, associate vice president for research and innovation at University of Oregon and a patent agent. When stakeholders must wait several years to see if their patent has been approved, “it makes it difficult to raise capital, build a team and hold a team together in startup companies as well as existing companies.”

Gerhart says that in his experience, the application process takes five to seven years (though the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reports an average of 3.5 years).

In the latest Oregon Innovation Index, created by the Oregon Innovation Council, Oregon ranked fourth in the nation in 2007 in patents per million people.

The patent office has come under fire for the growing backlog, and several institutions have presented a plan for fixing the problem. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recommends providing the patent office with adequate resources, improving retention of patent examiners and reforming the patent examiner production system.  

The patent office is in the process of turning things around and is three years into a massive hiring effort, hiring 1,200 new patent examiners each year, according to Jennifer Rankin Byrne, director of public affairs for the patent office.

But the larger problem is not the backlog, it’s the drop in the percentage of patents approved, according to William Noonan, partner at Klarquist Sparkman, which specializes in intellectual property legal services. In 2008, the USPTO approved 44% of applications, the lowest approval rate since at least 1975.        JENNIFER FURNISS


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

More Articles

Free Falling

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, December 18, 2014
121714-oilprice-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR

The implosion of the energy complex: The best thing for low oil prices is low oil prices.


Read more...

Three problems with Obama's immigration order

News
Wednesday, November 26, 2014

BY NISHANT BHAJARIA | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR112614-immigration-thumb

By now, anyone who knows about it has a position on President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The executive order is the outcome of failed attempts at getting a bill through the normal legislative process. Both Obama and his predecessor came close, but not close enough since the process broke down multiple times.


Read more...

Corner Office: Timothy Mitchell

January-Powerbook 2015
Saturday, December 13, 2014

A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.


Read more...

The clean fuels opportunity

News
Monday, November 10, 2014
111014-dirtyfuel-thumbBY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR

A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.


Read more...

Powerbook Perspective

January-Powerbook 2015
Friday, December 12, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

A conversation with Oregon state economist Josh Lehner.


Read more...

What I'm Reading

November/December 2014
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Peter Lizotte at ACME Business Solutions and Roger Busse at Pacific Continental Bank share their favorite reads.


Read more...

The short list: 5 companies making a mint off kale

The Latest
Thursday, November 20, 2014
kale-thumbnailBY OB STAFF

Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS