Huge patent backlog saps research and startup energy

| Print |  Email
Archives - March 2009
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

Photo Diary: Forest Grove Farmers Market

The Latest
Thursday, May 14, 2015
IMG 8469BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.


Read more...

Shades of Gray

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY KIM MOORE

Are we too quick to diagnose corruption?


Read more...

5 ways successful people kickstart the day

The Latest
Thursday, April 02, 2015
coffeethumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Are mornings the most productive part of the day?  We ask five successful executives how they get off to a good start.


Read more...

Cherry Raincoat

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY LINDA BAKER

Spring rains are the bane of an Oregon cherry farmer’s existence. Even a few sprinkles can crack the fruit so badly it’s not worth picking. Science to the rescue: Researchers at Oregon State University have developed a spray-on film that cuts rain-related cracking in half, potentially saving a season’s crop. The coating, patented as SureSeal, is made from natural chemicals similar to those found in the skins of cherries: cellulose, palm oil-based wax and calcium.


Read more...

Can small be large?

Linda Baker
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
040115-lindablogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Leaders in Oregon's ag sector gathered this morning in Portland’s Coopers Hall winery/taproom to discuss the role of the region as an export gateway, impediments to exporting products and solutions to containerized shipping challenges.


Read more...

Downtime with John Helmick

June 2015
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Live, Work, Play: CEO of Gorilla Capital.


Read more...

Knight Cancer Challenge No Biotech Dream

May 2015
Monday, April 27, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The Knight challenge is an important instance of philanthropy. But we should not assume it will magically transform OHSU into a business- and job-spinning engine for the local economy.


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