The Journal of Technology Transfer

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 923–952 | Cite as

Time to patent at the USPTO: the case of emerging entrepreneurial firms

  • Kenneth Zahringer
  • Christos Kolympiris
  • Nicholas KalaitzandonakesEmail author


In this paper we establish facts about the time it takes to process patent applications submitted by emerging entrepreneurial firms in high technology areas in the US. These facts, subsequently, inform our understanding of the strategic decisions made by entrepreneurial firms when it comes to expedite or delay the patent application process. Empirically, we exploit data describing more than 15,000 patents granted across time to 910 life sciences firms that won grants from the Small Business Innovation Research program. The econometric evidence is consistent with the argument that the cohort of entrepreneurial firms we study has adopted a strategic choice to maintain patent applications pending for prolonged times. We also find that examiners, patent attorneys, USPTO workload as well as application-specific features influence the time length of patent pendency.


Patent pendency Backlog Emerging firms Life sciences USPTO SBIR 

JEL Classification

C41 L2 O32 O34 O38 



This material is based upon work supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 2008-38420-18747. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics and Management of Agrobiotechnology Center, Department of Agricultural and Applied EconomicsUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.School of ManagementUniversity of BathBathUK
  3. 3.Department of Agricultural and Applied EconomicsUniversity of MissouriColumbiaUSA

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