U.S. Patent Applications Were UP in 2015, but Granted Patents Were Flat

The data for calendar 2015 are in from both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the European Patent Office, and for the first time since 2007, the number of patents issued by the USPTO declined. The Patent Office granted 326,032 U.S. Patents in 2014 and 325,979 U.S. Patents in 2015 – a decrease – but a decrease of just 53 or .01625%, so granted U.S. Patents were essentially flat from calendar 2014 to 2015. As a unit of the federal agency, the USPTO operates on an October 1 to September 30 Fiscal Year, but these numbers are for January through December of 2014 and 2015.

On the input side, U.S. Patent Application filings were up. There were 629,647 U.S. Patent Applications filed in 2015, up from the 615,243 U.S. Patent Applications filed in calendar 2014. That’s an increase of 14,404 or 2.3%.

Across the pond, the European Patent Office reported significantly more growth, having granted 68,421 EU Patents in 2015, up from the 64,613 EU Patents issued in calendar 2014. That is an increase of 3,808 or 5.9%. EU Patent Applications were also up, with 61,725 direct EU Patent Applications filed in 2015, up by 1,679 or 2.8% from the 60,046 direct EU Patent Applications filed in 2014. However, direct EU Patent Applications were essentially flat from 2013 to 2014, and granted EU Patents were down by 2,099 from 2013 to 2014, a decrease of 3.1%.

International PTO patent applications have seen consistent growth over the past five years, from 182,437 in 2011 to 217,142 in 2015, and average annual growth of 3.8%.

Here are summaries of the U.S. and EU Patent Applications and Granted Patents for the past five years.

U.S. Patent Applications and Granted U.S. Patents: Calendar 2011 through 2015

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Total Patent Applications 535,188 576,763 609,052 615,243 629,647
Total Patents Granted 247,713 276,788 302,948 326,032 325,979


EU Patent Applications and Granted EU Patents: Calendar 2011 through 2015

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Direct EU Patent Applications 62,558 63,166 60,650 60,046 61,725
PCT Patent Applications 182,437 195,334 205,268 214,321 217,142
Total Granted EU Patents 62,112 65,657 66,712 64,613 68,421


The question that will not be answered until the statistics are in for the 2016 Fiscal Year is what has happened to patent pendency? One of the goals of the previous USPTO Director, David Kappos, was to reduce patent pendency. When he became Director, it was over three years. As of the 2015 Fiscal Year report (October 2014 through September 2015), total pendency was down to an average of 26.6 months, a significant decrease. With Patent Applications up, and granted U.S. Patents flat, can there have also been a decrease in pendency?

Here is a further breakdown of the U.S. Patent Office data for calendar 2015.

U.S. Utility Patent Applications from U.S. applicants: 288,335 (48.9%)
U.S. Utility Patent Applications from foreign applicants: 301,075 (51.1%)
Total U.S. Utility Patent Applications: 589,410 (93.6%)

U.S. Design Patent Applications: 39,097 (6.2%)
U.S. Plant Patent Applications: 1,140 (0.2%)
Total U.S. Patent Applications: 629,647

U.S. Granted Utility Patents from U.S. applicants: 140,969 (47.2%)
U.S. Granted Utility Patents from foreign applicants: 157,438 (52.8%)
Total U.S. Granted Utility Patents: 298,407 (91.5%)

U.S. Granted Design Patents: 25,986 (8.0%)
U.S. Granted Plant Patents: 1,074 (0.3%)
U.S. Reissue Granted Patents: 512 (0.16%)
Total Granted U.S. Patents: 325,979