2019 U.S. Patents Hit All Time HighFebruary 20, 2020

he U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a record number of patents in 2019.  The 333,350 patents granted in 2019 was a 15% increase over 2018. 

As usual, IBM led the way with 9,262 new patents in 2019.  This is the 27th consecutive year that IBM was the #1 patentee for U.S. patents.  The other top 10 patentees were Samsung Electronics, Canon, Microsoft, Intel, LG Electronics, Apple, Ford, Amazon, and Huawei. 

Emerging technologies for 2019 patents included CRISPR, hybrid plants, and cancer therapies.

In view of the continued rise in patent applications, the USPTO is planning on hiring hundreds of new examiners for its offices in Alexandria, VA, San Jose, CA, and Detroit, MI.  Job fair events on February 21 and 22 at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and on February 28 and 29 at the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, hope to attract candidates with degrees in mechanical, electrical, computer, and biomedical engineering.

According to one study, based on the Patent Office classification system, software related patents constituted 61.8% of all patents granted in 2019, which is an increase from 50.8% for 2018 issued patents.  This level of software patents is despite the uncertainty of patent eligibility since the U.S. Supreme Court 2014 decision of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, where the Court reconfirmed the judicially created exception against patents for abstract ideas.   Often, software inventions have been denied as merely being abstract ideas. 

Kirk Hartung is a patent attorney and chair of the mechanical and electrical practice group at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC. For additional information please visit www.ipmvs.com or contact Kirk directly via email at kirk.hartung@ipmvs.com.

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