Another Year, Another Patent Record

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has out its 2005 annual report, and it was another record year for patent filings, as this graph shows.

What got my attention, beyond the mere fact of how the pace of patent filings has re-escalated in recent years, was the sheer number of patents being filed for that a 406,300 number in 2005 represents:

  • 1,846 filings/day
  • 231 filings/hour
  • 3.8 filings/minute

I have visions of patent clerks in windowless rooms, shades of the movie Brazil, where Jonathan Pryce’s Sam Lowry is in an office fighting with a pneumatic tube that keeps trying to send him more and more messages, until, after he plugs it in frustration, it finally explodes.


  1. God, I love that movie. I think that scene is around the same time Lowry and the guy in the office next to him start fighting over the desk they share by trying to pull it back and forth through the wall that separates them. Brilliant.

  2. Ah, another great scene. I should have added Brazil to my list of candidate movies for “best business movie” — those scenes are ones that come to my mind all the time in offices.

  3. Michael Robinson says:

    What I find even more interesting is that, apparently for the first time in history, an overwhelming majority of U.S. patent applications are meritless crap.

  4. You’re an optimist, Michael. I’m convinced that patents have always been mostly meritless crap, it’s just that there’s a lot more of it now.

  5. Michael Robinson says:

    To be more precise, I meant “meritless crap” even by the notoriously lax standards of the USPTO.
    They’re only issuing one patent for every three applications now. That’s pretty dismal.