If Everyone’s Doing It, How Can It Be Innovative?

© 2014 Ebyabe, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0

© 2014 Ebyabe, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0

Dennis Crouch over at Patently-O reports that for Fiscal Year 2014 (which just ended), the USPTO granted a record number of utility patents, over 300,000. Dennis determines that this results in an allowance rate of about 70%.

Think about that – 70% of patent applications result in a patent. Doesn’t that seem at odds with the idea of a patent being for something new?

It seems to me that it’s simply impossible that 7 out of 10 applications are for inventions that no one has ever thought of before. Remember, a patent is only supposed to issue for an invention that’s new and wouldn’t be obvious to someone with ordinary skill in the same field.

It’s possible that the USPTO is like Lake Wobegon, where all the patent applications are above average.

But it’s more likely that, as I’ve written recently, most issued patents are invalid.