It Was a Good Year
The US Patent and Trademark Office had a record-breaking year in 2014.
The Big Picture
USPTO issued eight (8) percent more utility, design, and plant patents in 2014 than in 2013 (+8.0% Y/Y), for a total of 326,382 new patents.
|Domain||2014 Patents||2013 Patents||%Y/Y Change|
|Business Methods (CL 705)||4,847||5,890||-17.7|
|Broad Business Methods||25,865||22,500||+15.0|
Each of the three major utility patent technical domains (Chemical, Electrical, and Mechanical) were up last year: +7.7% Y/Y for chemical; +9.3% Y/Y for electrical; and +7.6% Y/Y for mechanical. Overall, utility patents came in at +8.6% Y/Y, with a total of 301,644 new grants. This count is adjusted for withdrawals.
The Way Better Patents weekly Box Scores track business methods patents and "broad business methods" inventions. The US Supreme Court decisions on patent cases in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International (2014), Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics (2013), and the decision in Mayo v. Prometheuscases (2012), hhave altered the subject matter eligible for patent protection found in business methods patents. USPTO examination practice regarding subject matter eligibility under §101 changed (see USPTO Director's Forum blog post on 'Guidance on Subject Matter Eligibility Issued. Since those decisions, awards of new business methods patents ground to a virtual standstill. Business methods patents had a year over year decline of −17.7% Y/Y with total volume of 4,847 patents granted.
Broad business methods patents, however, saw the second-largest yearly increase of the major categories we track: +15.0% Y/Y, with 25,865 grants. Such a large one-year increase may indicate a change in patent strategy by inventors in light of the SCOTUS ruling and resulting changes in examination practice at USPTO.
Design patents were effectively flat in 2014, with mere +0.8% Y/Y increase over 2013, with 23,666 new patents issued.
Plant patents show the largest year-over-year increase, +26.0% Y/Y, with 1,072 grants. The increase in plant patents may be a return to more traditional agricultural innovation.
We'll take a deeper dive into the data in the upcoming posts.