Even under the best of circumstances, planning a patent prosecution strategy that may help you secure a notice of allowance as quickly as possible is a challenging task.

Every month, the USPTO uses the graphical dashboards at its Data Visualization Center website to publish data indicating its progress on reducing both the country’s patent application backlog and the average time inventors typically wait for an allowance or rejection of their applications. The dashboard allows inventors and intellectual property professionals access to prosecution metrics that once were only available annually in agency reports, if they were available at all.

As helpful as the USPTO dashboards are, however, patent applicants who rely exclusively on publicly available performance metrics are left to speculate, often inaccurately, about the patent prosecution process. In-depth data analysis by sector and industry that go beyond average patent application processing times is better—and here’s where patent intelligence tools can help set reasonable expectations and better budget your IP department’s resources.

Wide variance between art units

A simple query using an innovative patent software tool with access to art unit analytics revealed that Art Unit 2144, which processes patent applications related to computer architecture, software and information security, takes more than 34 months to reach its first office action—while the data visualization center patent dashboard shows the average patent application reaches the same point at 19.2 months.

Compare those averages to Art Unit 3721, which processes patent applications related to paper-based tubes and containers. That art unit takes about 16.5 months to administer its first office action, placing it ahead of the USPTO average.

Are you basing your strategies around publicly available averages, or do you have an insight tool that allows you to analyze performance information for every discrete art unit and individual patent examiner in the USPTO database for laser-sharp forecasting? Patent data intelligence tools transform USPTO data into actionable intelligence, giving IP professionals the context behind the numbers.

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