Patent Backlog Data


I’m really enjoying using newly opened / public data sets to tell a story with data in my free time. In July 2015, the USPTO released the beta version of PAIR Bulk Data (, which gives the user the ability to search, customize and download filing status of publicly available patent applications.

This visualization is a comparison of the number of published pending U.S. patent applications sorted by Technology Centers. A Technology Center is a way the USPTO classifies or sorts different types of technologies. By law, patent applications are only published after 18 months.

The data is a subset of all the publicly available patent application data (over 8.5 million records) available at The “Status” field of “Docketed New Case – Ready for Examination” was assumed to be the total number of new patent applications pending or awaiting examination.

The data shows that Mechanical Engineering Technology Center 3700 has the most pending patent applications and Biotechnology Technology Center 1600 has the smallest backlog of pending applications. The total number of published and pending patent applications was 275,045 as of September 1, 2015.

Updated 3/27/18:

To find which applications had not yet been examined by patent examiners, I checked the “Docketed New Case – Ready for Examination” box on the left column of the PAIR BULK DATA website. Then I searched by “Group Art Unit”. For example, for Group Art Unit 1600, I typed “16**” in the search box. There are a total of 307,347 patent applications that have not been examined. Here is a better visualization than what was in my original post in September 2015.




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