Application Pendency Times and Outcomes across Four Patent Offices

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 06/08

Date: April 2008


Paul H. Jensen
Alfons Palangkaraya
Elizabeth Webster


This paper describes two dimensions of the international patenting process: application outcomes and pendency periods using matched samples of patent applications filed at the Australian Patent Office (APO), the Japanese Patent Office (JPO), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the European Patent Office (EPO). The evidence suggests that there are substantial differences across international patent agencies. For example, Japan only grants 40 per cent of those applications that are granted by both the APO and the USPTO (although a large proportion of applications at the JPO are withdrawn). Compared to the other offices, the APO is the closest to the USPTO in terms of the relative proportion of patents granted. Furthermore, the time taken to examine an application (i.e. after the request to examine has been made by the applicant) is on average shortest at the APO (approximately 14 months) and longest at the EPO (approximately 42 months). We argue that these findings are somewhat alarming be cause of their potential effects on the uncertainty faced by patent applicants, especially when it is linked to the overall rate of innovative activity.

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