Patent Backlog Stifling Job Creation
The director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), David Kappos, said at the annual trade show of the Biotechnology Industry Organization earlier this week that he thinks the USPTO is hampering the creation of millions of potential jobs because of its inability to keep pace with the volume and complexity of the applications it receives. This is occuring at a time when technology innovation has become the last remaining source of "sustainable competitive advantage."
The Journal Sentinel reported Kappos saying: "Hundreds of thousands of groundbreaking innovations that are sitting on the shelf literally waiting to be examined - jobs not being created, lifesaving drugs not going to the marketplace, companies not being funded, businesses not being formed - there's really not any good news in any of this." The JS further reports:
Hamstrung by a series of problems, including congressional diversions of its funding since the early 1990s, the Patent Office fell hopelessly behind at a time when the technologies it protects ought to have been reinvigorating the U.S. economy. Its efforts to catch up made matters only worse, with the agency rejecting applications at one point at an unprecedented 60% rate - including many that were proved later to be worthy of patents.
Of the 1.2 million applications pending at the agency, more than 700,000 have not even been picked up by an examiner for a preliminary examination, Kappos said. The backlogs keep inventors, investors and entrepreneurs waiting for years while the technologies go unprotected or become obsolete.
You can read the rest of the JS report, "Backlog of patents still stifling potential jobs, director says," here.
Kappos is a former executive at IBM. He took over the USPTO last August and has been credited for gradually increasing transparency at the agency and for his candid criticism of its performance.
For an overview of how patent issues intersect with entrepreneurship, check out this Policy Dialogue on Entrepreneurship one-pager.