The Long Wait for Innovation: The Global Patent Pendency Problem

Mark Schultz and Kevin Madigan write in their informative, and still very pertinent, 2016 paper about patent pendency issues and the reasons for, and possible solutions to, the problem. Many patent offices simply lack sufficient examiners to handle the increasing volume of patent applications, and there are deficiencies in both processes and infrastructure. One possible solution is increasing the number and qualification of examiners; many countries are already prioritizing the hiring of new examiners to tackle patent delay and backlog problems. Work sharing is another option. Patents are increasingly filed in multiple jurisdictions, and this duplication creates the opportunity to share work or expedite applications that have already been granted by recognized jurisdictions. Yet another proposed solution is the removal of obstacles to final grants. Some countries insert additional procedures and reviews in between application and grant: India, for example, has a redundant pre-grant opposition procedure, while Brazil subjects pharmaceutical patent applications to double review by both its patent office and its drug regulator. Such procedures should be re-considered in light of the substantial cost of the delays they introduce, and, where they are redundant, they should be eliminated.