Innovation. It’s been the lifeblood of this country since it’s founding. The US’s founding fathers recognized this through the establishment of Patent office in 1790, and it has been at the forefront of helping inventors for over 200 years. In recent years, the pace of Innovation has certainly increased, and we have now reached a point where the 10 millionth utility patent is about to be granted. It took about 100 years to reach the first million patents, but the momentum has picked up since, as shown in Figure 1.
It was only three years ago that the USPTO granted the 9 millionth patent, and you can expect that patent number 11 million will be granted about three years from now. Patents have ranged from the ridiculous to the amazing, but our focus today is on the significant accomplishment of reaching 10 million patents. This is such a momentous feat that the USPTO has a website dedicated to the history leading to 10 million patents.
Figure 1: Growth in Patents over Time
The USPTO has indicated that it will issue patent number 10,000,000 this summer. We have gone several steps further by honing in on the date and making a prediction as to which current application will be the lucky one to earn this recognition. We analyzed patent trends and a number of other factors to identify one patent as a likely candidate for the honor.
The date of patent number 10,000,000 will be June 19, 2018.
We feel this one is the easiest part of the prediction. We all know that every Tuesday, the USPTO releases new patents. Using our system, we have tracked the trend since January of this year, and the USPTO averages 5,920 grants per week. Figure 2 shows the actual grants through April 24, 20,18 and the projected through June.
Figure 2: Actual and Projected Utility Patent Grants per Week
Patent 10,000,000 will issue to an important American company and an American inventor
While the USPTO grants patents to all filers regardless of where they are from, this patent is too important for them to randomly issue this number. To honor American innovation, we expect an American company to receive this patent. Looking at the significant historical milestones outlined on the USPTO 10 million patent website, the innovations identified are uniquely American.
The patent will relate to communications technology
Now we start to look at a number of factors that lead us to the conclusion of a specific patent being the one awarded as number 10,000,000. Over the past 20 years, the category Electronic Communication Technique (Class H04) has received the most patents (many patents identify more than one classification or category, but H04 has been listed first on more patents than any other). In addition, it is number two for all time (or at least since 1790).
In addition, if you look up significant events that occurred on June 19th, you would find that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was established on June 19, 1934. The FCC will be 84 years old on this date.
Patent 10,000,000 will cover an aspect of 5G technology
Looking at what significant technologies will carry us into the next decade, 5G rises to the top. This technology leap will enhance wireless networks around the world, a big step up from today’s 4G technology.
Patent 10,000,000 will honor women with a woman inventor
This year’s World Intellectual Property day honored women in innovation and creativity. What better way for the USPTO to celebrate this theme and encourage young women to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields?
Looking at predictions 3-5, there is another key factor – in addition to June 19th being the day the FCC was established, Erna Schneider Hoover was born on this day in 1926 and will be 92. Who is Erna Schneider Hoover? She graduated from Wellesley College and Yale University, and worked for AT&T Bell Labs. She received one of the first software patents (US Patent No. 3,623,007) that dealt with telephone switching systems, including some of the principles still in use today.
Leading Up to Our Final Prediction
So before we reveal our pick for the honored patent, given the predictions above, let’s look at the methodology we used to identify his pick for patent 10,000,000.
First, the notice of allowance (NOA) is likely already issued so this leaves patents in class H04, that cover 5G technology, with an existing NOA, but the issue fee not yet paid, which should be made on or around May 9th, 2018.
As of this writing, we identified 268 applications that have the Following criteria:
- Important American Company
- Class H04 (first listed)
- Related to 5G technology
- NOA already published
- Issue Fee not paid yet (will be paid on or around May 9th 2018)
- Prolific Inventors worthy of this honor
The USPTO will award Patent 10,000,000 to Application 13/666670 – SEARCH SPACE DESIGN FOR E-PDCCH IN WIRELESS COMMUNICATION NETWORKS from Qualcomm Inc.
The Patent Office will want to make sure that the patent is an especially valid one, and ultimately important to the future of 5G wireless technology. The grant has to stand up to future challenges at the PTAB or the Federal Circuit. It has to be from a technology that is ultimately adopted in products to make it significant. It should also be from a prolific inventor or inventors.
While there are a handful of 5G applications from AT&T that are expected to grant on June 19th which could be a good choice for patent 10 million, we didn’t pick them because they are prosecuted in house. It seems likely that the USPTO will want to give the honor to a law firm customer as well as a patent owner.
So why pick this patent from Qualcomm? The application has five named inventors, including a woman, who are all heavy hitters in the telecom industry who have thousands of combined patents and have even teamed up on 13 patent applications. Here are the inventors, their location, and the number of unique published patent applications filed:
- Wanshi Chen (San Diego, CA) (925 unique US filings)
- Tao Luo (San Diego, CA) (789 unique US filings)
- Jelena Damnjanovic (San Diego, CA) (215 unique US filings)
- Peter Gaal (San Diego, CA) (1047 unique US filings)
- Juan Montojo (Nuremberg, DE) (579 unique US filings)
Further, the application was highly scrutinized during prosecution with four office actions, overcoming obviousness arguments over Google, Avago, LG, and Blackberry. And to top it off, the examiner is a woman named Natali Pascual Peguero. It would be an additional honor to recognize a woman examiner with patent 10,000,000.
The stars have aligned and we feel this is a strong candidate for patent 10,000,000. We used the analytics embedded in our system to perform the analysis and then used Google and Wikipedia to identify key events for June 19th.