It’s been reported that COVID-19 has had significant impacts on patent applicant filing behaviors. For example, one report shows that patent applications are now being abandoned at almost twice the normal rates. There are also anecdotal reports of lowered filing rates.
Private businesses are suffering from reductions in demand, and as a user fee-funded agency, the USPTO suffers similarly from reductions in use of its services. But certain choices the USPTO has made will exacerbate the impacts of COVID-19 on the Patent Office—in particular, its choice to defer the majority of its fee collection to issue and maintenance fees.