By Dennis Crouch
Under Director Kappos' tenure, the USPTO has focused on reducing the backlog of unexamined cases. That approach has been quite successful. The table below shows a 10% reduction in the backlog of unexamined cases over the past year. As you might expect, those cases do not disappear. Rather, the bolus is being pushed down the line toward eventual issuance or abandonment. Thus, as the number of unexamined cases drops, the RCE backlog and BPAI backlog continue to grow. I suspect that we'll eventually think of these cases as the "baby boom" of patents.
In this study, unexamined cases include only those that have not yet received a first action on the merits (FAOM) and do not include RCE cases. The rise in the RCE backlog is a direct result of USPTO policy to focus more attention on the unexamined cases.
In March 2012, the BPAI disposed of 911 cases -- more than any month in recent history. This slowed the growth of the BPAI backlog. However, with 1,343 new appeals docketed, the growth continued.