There are many changes taking place within the US Patent and Trademark Office or impacting the performance of the Patent Office and thereby confirming patent reform is still alive in Congress. The legion of new examiners has been empowered to reject claims on the basis that the invention is obvious or would be common sense improvements to a person skilled in the art.

Updated statistics have been published (either by Dennis Crouch’s Patently-O or Peter Zura’s blog). It is reported that approved claims have declined 13 percent over the last year. Previously, the last published statistic was an allowance rate of 44 percent of all applications. If I have done the math correctly, the current allowance rate would be approximately 39 percent. Less than 4 out of ten applications issue as patents. I do not see this trend changing. I also do not see how it is realistic for a lay person to patent their invention on their own. (And if the lay person achieves a patent, what is the strength or scope of coverage of the resulting patent?)