This is the number of patents the USPTO issued in 2010. Do you want some perspective? The 31% increase from 2009 is a jump greater than any previous annual increase while the previous record in 2006, 173,722, is shattered by 27%. The increase is more dramatic considering that the number of patents filed remains relatively constant over the decade.
According to the USPTO, this jump in grants is a result of a concerted effort to eliminate the backlog. When questioned whether the quality of the examination process may have denigrated as a result of this push, the response/justification has been mainly twofold. First, the USPTO has increased its patent examiners by 6% or roughly 400 more examiners. Second, the USPTO has decreased the actions per disposal, successfully decreasing the backlog by 5%.
Unfortunately, we are still hovering around in an age of delayed lawsuits and patent unreliability. So the question arises as to whether we will see a corresponding rise in the number of patent-related lawsuits, and whether any rise in such lawsuits may also possibly have any greater or lesser merit due to any possible slippage in quality of the patent granting process.
Besides the small fishes (independent inventors) sipping on the opportunities to sue a company in today's litigious market, the big fishes (R&D leaders) themselves are heavily invested in the patent battles. The companies among the top 10 patent recipients (IBM, Samsung, Microsoft, and Intel) have all encountered major patent lawsuits. Additionally, companies like Apple, doubling its patents from 2009 to 2010, may continue to face resistance and ramifications. File away, but just be cognizant of the ramifications and consequences.
What are your thoughts? Will we see a rise in lawsuits to correspond with the rise in granted patents?