How Long Does It Take the USPTO to Grant a Patent Application?

How Long Does It Take the USPTO to Grant a Patent Application

Lengthy delays in granting patent applications have been a hallmark of the application process for many years. Several factors are contributing to the delay including:

– The complexity of the idea; 

– Whether the patent is filed within a high-traffic field;

– The limited number of available examiners; and

– The time required to perform a thorough examination.

While the causes may vary, long wait times have become the norm for most patent applications.


2020 by the Numbers

In 2020, the United States Patent and Trademark Office received more than 400,000 patent applications, an increase of more than 5% from 2019. Despite this increase, the USPTO reported in its annual Performance and Accountability Report that it had exceeded its 2020 goals to reduce both average first action pendency (15 months) and average total pendency of patent applications (23.7 months), with decreases to 14.8 months and 23.3 months, respectively. This success continued a five-year trend, which has reduced the time for granting patents by approximately 3 months.

Despite the decline in overall time for granting applications, the actual wait time varies greatly, even within the same field. Looking to technology patents as an example, Computer Architecture, Software, and Information Security patents (USPTO Tech Center 2100) required an average of 26.5 months of average total pendency before the patent was granted. In contrast, the average total pendency of Communications patents (USPTO Tech Center 2600) was only 19.2 months, more than 4 months below the overall average wait time, and more than a half-year shorter than the wait time for Tech Center 2100 patents. (Some of the pendency disparity can likely be accounted for because of the higher Alice scrutiny required for Computer Architecture, Software, and Information Security patents.)

Other average total months pending in the technology field include:


While the grant times and causes for delay vary across the board, the delays themselves remain a consistent part of the patent granting process. Whether we can look to a significant decrease in the time between filing a patent to granting is unclear, but advantageous moves can still be made in the meantime.

Since patents maintain their filing date as priority regardless of when they are granted, inventors and companies with patentable products or services can still get ahead of the market by starting the process as soon as possible, especially with progressive and forward-thinking innovations. With patent granting delays approaching two years, it is clear that the sooner a patent is filed, the better.


The core team of patent consultants at Vitek IP, LLC have analyzed over 20,000 patents, while managing hundreds of buy-side and sell-side transactions for some of the world’s largest companies. Vitek’s founders have over five decades of experience in IP and tech, and have developed sophisticated patent sales and patent acquisitions strategies for some of the world’s largest companies. Vitek’s patent consultancy, brokerage group, and research organization provide clients exceptional guidance navigating the patent landscape. For more information, visit