Sunday, March 22, 2020

Impact of COVID-19 on the patent industry

In addition to the serious health dangers of COVID-19, many businesses are greatly impacted. My heart goes out to the many people who have suddenly lost their jobs or income, such restaurant workers and others providing services to the general public.

My initial thoughts of the impact on the patent industry (by this I mean people drafting and prosecuting patents) was that it would not have a significant impact.  It seems fairly easy for patent attorneys and agents and their staff to work at home.  All you need is a computer at home and a phone.

Turns out I was quite wrong.  To get a better understanding, I reviewed Patent Bots usage statistics.  Here is a summary:

  • through March 7: minimal, if any, decline from expected usage
  • March 8-14: 23% decline from expected usage
  • March 15-21: 27% decline from expected usage
Although we are a small company and haven't attempted a rigorous statistical analysis (e.g., accounting for school vacation weeks), the numbers here shows a large drop in activity in the patent industry.

There are some obvious reasons for the drop:
  • the overhead of getting a home office set up,
  • parents needing to provide additional care for kids who are out of school, and
  • slow down in activity from clients for the above reasons or because of a slow down in their own businesses.
It remains to be seen whether this is a temporary decline and that patent activity gets mostly back to normal soon, or if this is an ongoing decline that will last as long as COVID-19 remains a danger.

Hoping that you are all healthy and not too impacted by all the disruptions.  Stay safe!