USPTO Issues the 2020 Citizen Centric Report
The USPTO recently issued the 2020 Citizen Centric Report. The report is a companion to its 2020 Performance and Accountability Report, and it compares the agency’s performance to previous years while providing essential facts and figures. How did the USPTO generally do in 2020?
The USPTO and COVID-19
No 2020 annual review would be complete without a discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Juristat has covered extensively. The report highlights several of the USPTO’s COVID-19 initiatives, including:
- Fee and deadline relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
- The COVID-19 Prioritized Examination Pilot Program, which lets small and micro entities fast-track patent prosecution for inventions subject to approvals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in treating COVID-19
- The Patents 4 Partnerships webpage, which provides a repository of patents and applications related to COVID-19 and creates a platform for connecting patentees and potential licensees
The USPTO instituted many more COVID-19 measures than these, but the agency likely considers these three to be the most impactful as they are the only ones mentioned in the Report.
How the USPTO Has Progressed
The report also includes an overview of the USPTO’s performance metrics over the past several years. See Figure 1 below.
Figure 1: How the USPTO Has Progressed (Patent Operations)
These numbers do not change much from year to year, which indicates that the USPTO has not made huge progress on its goals. However, the numbers aren’t bad. A 91% satisfaction rate is solid, and the increase to 94% is even better. The agency is also not slipping, with performance metrics either holding steady or increasing very slightly from year to year. At the very least, the challenges of 2020 did not cause a backslide, which is a success in its own right.
Finances and Budget
The USPTO appears to be in good shape financially, taking in more money than it spent in 2020. The report also notes that the agency received a clean audit opinion from the independent accounting firm KPMG — the 28th consecutive year that the USPTO has received a clean opinion. One possible explanation for the USPTO’s wise financial management is that it relies on user fees rather than taxpayer dollars, thus running more like a business than many other government agencies.
Figure 2: FY 2020 Finances and Budget
Challenges AheadThe report also outlines major challenges that the USPTO will face in the near future. The three challenges listed concern funding, information technology, and legal challenges:
- Maintaining stable and sustainable funding and continuing to optimize the management of the USPTO’s financial resources
- Enhancing IT capabilities while maintaining stable and supported systems and infrastructure that meet ongoing business needs
- Managing ongoing legal challenges, such as cases questioning the USPTO’s process for appointing administrative patent and trademark judges (Arthrex v. Smith & Nephew), and their associated impacts on the agency’s operations
While the USPTO provides a great deal of transparency about its operations, you need an analytics tool like Juristat to explore patent trends and available prosecution data. Want even more insight into how these USPTO trends can shape your strategy? Try Juristat today.