Another Milestone: Patent No. “About” 12,000,000

June 4, 2024, marked another USPTO milestone. U.S. Patent No. 12,000,000 issued. It had been just 1120 days since the issuance of U.S. Patent No. 11,000,000 on May 11, 2021. This was the second-shortest period of time for one million patents to issue — the shortest between the 1057 days between patent numbers 10,000,000 and 11,000,000, and a long way from the 27419 days (75+ years) between patent number 1 and 1,000,000.

Of course,12,000,00 is not the exact number. Before U.S Patent No. 1 issued on July 13, 1836, the USPTO issued about 9,957 patents before it occurred to anyone to number them. We say “about” because a fire in the Patent Office destroyed records and the precise number of these X patents is not certain. Also, there are 70854 of patent numbers which for one reason or another, no patent issued. See, the list of these numbers here. There are also some patents with fractional numbers that bump the total (see our prior post about these patent oddities), including U.S. Patent No. 3,262,124 1/2:

Finally, we are only counting utility patents in the about 12,000,000, and not the approximately 1,030,182 design patents that have issued since 1843, or the approximately 35,860 plant patents that have issued since 1931, or reissue patents, or improvement patents — so called AI patents that issued between 1838 to 1861. Real Patent Number nerds will want to check out this list and the notes at the bottom

If recent history is a good guide, we should get to utility patent number “about” 13,000,000 sometime around Tuesday, June 29, 2027.