US utility patents have issued at a more rapid pace in the last ten years – see bar graph.  While it took almost 15 years (from 1976 to 1991) for one-million US utility patents to issue between US Pat. 4,000,000 and US Pat. 5,000,000, the pace of patenting has escalated.  US Pat. 11,000,000 just issued on May 11, 2021, which was less than three years after US Pat. 10,000,000 issued (June 19, 2018).

The number of US patents granted each year depends not only on inventor ingenuity, but also on the allocated budget and administration policy at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), both of which impact staffing levels and directives to the Examiners.  As of yet (June 2021), there has not been a nomination by the President for the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO.  The Director has an important role.  He or she leads on intellectual property policy, advocates for the USPTO before Congress and sets a tone for how aggressively Examiners apply patentability standards to reject applications.  To continue the impressive rate of patenting in the US, the USPTO very much needs a new Director, and soon.

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