Today, the ten millionth utility patentAs distinguished from design patents and plant patents. Generally, references to 'patents' are to utility patents. issued.[1. Technically speaking, patent 10,000,000 isn’t the ten millionth patent, or even the ten millionth utility patentAs distinguished from design patents and plant patents. Generally, references to 'patents' are to utility patents.. There are around 700,000 design patents, a smattering of plant patents, and the approximately 10,000 utilityAn invention must useful to be patentable. Very few inventions are invalidated as lacking utility. Perpetual motion machines, for example, are typically found invalid for lacking utility. “X-patents”, most of which were lost in a fire, which pre-date the 1836 Patent Act and the current numbering scheme.] The patent relates to one way of providing coherent LADAR detection. As we look back at 180 years of Patent Office history and look forward to the next ten million patents, it’s worth remembering that what makes the U.S. patent system unique is the explicit dedication of the system to promoting innovation, rather than merely promoting patents.
For more on this, see my op-ed today in The Hill.