A Realistic Timeline of the Patent Process

As he often does, Dennis Crouch has created a chart to help better understand the patent process.  This one shows the average time between filing a patent application and receiving a first action on the merits (“FAOM”).  Generally, this FAOM comes in the form of a non-final rejection.  Very rarely is it an immediate notice of allowance; most of these occurrences are limited to design and plant patents.  Professor Crouch notes that the average pendency from filing to issuance as a patent is about 3.5 years.  That number represents a slight drop over the past few years since Director Kappos has taken the helm at the Patent Office, but the Office still has a backlog of 600,000 patent applications to work through.  Most of the 3.5 years is consumed simply in waiting for the newly-filed patent application to rise from the bottom of the stack to receive examination.