1.3 Strengthen Intellectual Property Protection

Why is IP protection important?

The protection of Intellectual Property (IP) is essential to innovation; patents allow inventors to profit from their work. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) serves all American entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators through the patent process. The USPTO also works with agencies across the Federal government to enforce IP protections both in the U.S. and abroad. When inventors are confident their creations will be protected, they are motivated to invest their time and resources in ideas that improve the lives of everyday Americans.

Strategic Objective 1.3 Progress Update

Average patent pendency reduced to 14.7 months
To strengthen IP protection, the Department of Commerce has placed special emphasis on Accelerating Patent Processing speed. Our Department's Agency Priority Goal has been: "By September 2019, the USPTO will reduce first action pendency to less than 15 months and total pendency to less than 24 months..." This priority goal was achieved during 2019 by successfully implementing the following efforts to reduce the length of time it take to process a patent application:
  • Hiring and retaining a high-quality workforce
  • Evaluating examination time to ensuring balance of quality and pendency
  • Improving information technology infrastructure
  • Improving compliance with Patent Term Adjustment timeframes
Improved results are shown in the following Key Performance Indicator (KPI) charts. These reduced processing times allow inventors to market and distribute their ideas and products faster.

What is First Action Pendency?
The average number of months from the patent application filing date to the date a First Office Action is mailed by the USPTO.
What is Patent Total Pendency? 
The average time in months for a complete review of a utility, plant, and reissue patent application, from the filing date to issue a patent decision or abandonment of the application.
USPTO surpasses release of 10 million patents!
The USPTO issued patent number 10 million on June 19, 2018. This milestone of human ingenuity perhaps exceeds even the Founding Fathers’ expectations when they called for a patent system in the Constitution to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”
Watch this video for information on the history of patents in the U.S. and the future of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Average Trademark Total Pendency surpasses target
The USPTO continues to excel in the processing of trademarks. During 2019, average trademark pendency was 9.3 months, well below the target of 12 months.

Focus on minority-owned businesses
The USPTO continues to support and assist minority-owned businesses in navigating the process of gaining IP protections. In 2018, USPTO provided IP information to 151 minority-owned businesses.
Expansion of IP protection and enforcement
The number of people receiving training on best practices to protect IP in 2018 was 7,242, an increase of 75% from the previous year.   

I want to know more...
About the Agency Priority Goal
performance.gov/commerce/APG_commerce_1.html - For more information about the Accelerate Patent Processing Agency Priority Goal
About the Data
uspto.data.commerce.gov - For additional Patent and Trademark data
About the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
uspto.gov - For additional information about the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office