Patent office overstretched due to increased workload – WIPO Report
The WIPO Patent Report, 2007 Edition, mentions that,
Increasing demand has led to increases in workload in some patent offices, although the number of patent applications pending examination differs significantly from one office to another. The United States of America had more than 900,000 pending applications in 2005, with Japan having the next largest number of pending applications (according to available data).
The following data will give you a better picture about this trend –
In 2005, about 1,660,000 patent applications were filed worldwide, which is an increase of 7% over 2004.
The average annual rate of increase in total patent filings since 1995 is 4.7%.
A bulk of this activity is concentrated in the US and medical technology patents lead the pack. I have already mentioned before how this surge is being accompanied by patent invalidation due to improper patenting methods being followed. With such heightened level of activity, it is becoming more and more important to get professional help while drafting patents, as every error is going to multiply the delays in the process, given the overburdened nature of the patent office at the present juncture.