Patexia Insight 147: Law Firms with the Largest Growth and Decline in Patent Prosecution 2022
Earlier in April, we published our fourth annual Patent Prosecution Intelligence Report. The report was our first attempt to rank patent attorneys by activity and performance after extracting their names from the file wrapper. We also looked at changes in the activity of different firms and companies and tried to understand the factors behind them (e.g., lateral moves, drop in the workload, etc.).
We already have covered some insights from this report such as the analysis of Apple’s top patent attorneys (Patexia 133), the most inventive cities and states in the U.S. (Patexia 134), China becoming the second most active patentee (Patexia 136) and the analysis of the drop in Japanese patents (Patexia 141). Furthermore, when it comes to entities and their rankings, we have revealed some of the very best companies in Patexia 140, the most active and best-performing firms in Patexia 142 as well as the top patent prosecution attorneys in Patexia 145. This week, we will turn our attention to the law firms with the largest growth or decline in patent work, using the data from this report.
Our Patent Prosecution Intelligence 2022 covers the past five years, from January 1, 2017, through December 31, 2021. During this period there have been significant shifts in patenting trends. The pandemic certainly played a role, not only in the overall filing trends but also in individual entities, which either expanded their practice or shrunk their activities. During this period, USPTO issued 1,823,414 patents and published 2,038,338 applications. The chart below outlines the activity distributed yearly and the patenting trends by analyzing these two key parameters:
As seen above, the number of published applications has been fluctuating between a maximum of 433,868 in 2019 and a minimum of 382,362 in 2021. When it comes to issued patents, the year 2019 has the highest number of patents issued at 395,456 while 2018 has the least with 337,697. The last two years of the chart and the number of issued patents will be our focus and the source of data to discover the law firms with the largest growth and decline in patents.
In our Patent Prosecution Intelligence 2022, we evaluated a total of 3,591 law firms that secured these patents for 117,772 foreign and domestic entities during the period of our study. To understand which law firms are the ones with the largest growth or decline, we limited our analysis to the top 1,000 most active law firms in 2020 and performed a comparative analysis with the data for 2021. Since there are law firms with a relatively small number of patents where even a small change in numbers causes a significant change in terms of percentage, we performed the comparison using the absolute numbers. The following bar chart illustrates the top five law firms with the largest decline in the number of issued patents in 2021:
With 516 fewer patents in 2021, Morgan Lewis & Bockius ranks third here for the largest decline but also ranked in the report as one of the most active law firms during the period of our study. Their main clients are in the car industry: Hyundai and Kia Motors America.
Even though 2021’s numbers represent a decline in patents issued and published, this still does not seem to have affected several law firms, which have managed to grow their numbers in 2021. Illustrated in the chart below are the top five law firms with the most significant growth:
Interestingly, in absolute numbers, the growth of these firms is smaller when compared to the decline of the other five firms. This may be another proxy for patenting activity, showing that the activity has been slowing down in recent years.
The full Patent Prosecution Intelligence 2022 provides other insights related to patenting trends as well as the evaluation and rankings of the top 1000 most active companies, law firms, and attorneys/agents. We analyzed and reviewed various metrics including filing activity, the pendency of applications, number of extensions requested, number of office actions, allowance rate, changes in the claim language, and length of the claims. Using these parameters, we generated the rankings in high-tech, bio-tech, and overall categories.
Stay tuned as in the following weeks we will begin the coverage of our upcoming ANDA Litigation Intelligence Report analyzing different topics and revealing the highlights from this report.