Allowance Rate by USPC Class

This visualization presents the allowance rate, broken out by USPC class over the years 2006-2018

The patent review process is one governed by a set of strong and explicit rules as to what does and does not qualify as a patentable idea or innovation. There's real gravity to the procedure--a patent can drive lawsuits protecting intellectual property, making the potential cost of an improperly issued patent very high. At the same time, the patenting process should not obstruct the protection of proper intellectual property. Unfortunately, this isn't a matter of double and triple-checking the calculations--there is no equation that determines what does and does not qualify as the basis for a proper patent. If it were otherwise, we could write up a handy computer program to do it for us! For that, we'll need to wait for some serious advances in natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

Given the weight of patent issuance, the rate at which USPTO issues patents (known as the 'allowance rate'), and the trend of this rate over time, is of significant interest to researchers who analyze the patenting process. This visualization presents the allowance rate, broken out by USPC class, over the years 2006-2018.

First, a caveat. A big part of our drive behind creating and distributing these visualizations is to call attention to publicly available USPTO data and the interesting stories we can tell. In this case, the data set was generated from USPTO's internal database, rather than publicly available data. So we're fudging the rule with this one. There _are_ ways to get allowance rate data from publicly available data sources, but this is a case where the data is difficult to collect in a simple and clear way. You'll have to trust us on this one.

Our data set fits in with a working white paper from the Office of the Chief Economist ("What is the Probability of Receiving a US Patent?"), which analyzed allowance rate data from 1996-2005. The introduction to that paper, in particular, is worth reading for a better understanding of the subtleties involved in calculating an allowance rate. These complexities should be kept in mind if interpreting the data set we present as a continuation of the working paper, as there may be subtle differences.

USPC classes
The data in the above chart via a downloadable Excel file

'What's the Probability of Receiving a US Patent?'

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