The United States Patent and Trademark Office has issued U.S. Patent. No. 7,000,000. The patent, which claims a particular kind of polysaccharide polymer - a synthetic cellulose fiber - issued to the Du Pont chemical company after a six-year pendency. The abstract states that the polymers have "cotton-like" properties but can be produced in continuous filaments "on a year-round basis" for use in the textile industry.
This press release from the patent office offers some statistical trivia. It took 75 years from the inception of the modern patent numbering system - U.S. Patent No. 1 in 1836 - to get to U.S. Patent No. 1,000,000, but only about six years to get from U.S. Patent No. 6,000,000 to U.S. Patent No. 7,000,000.
No wonder we're so busy.
Undoubtedly many conclusions about the patent system's state of health can be drawn from such statistics. As always, though, the numbers don't tell the whole story. Patent reform is clearly needed, but the issues are extremely complex and there are cogent arguments from all sides. I will try to write more about this in the near future. For now, I recommend the excellent Patently-O blog as a good place to read about patents and patent law.