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Jul 20, 2016Legal
Patexia Insight 3: 2016 Top 25 Ranked Firms by Number of Patent Practitioners

This week at Patexia, we analyzed information for all registered patent practitioners in the US. As of July 2016, we found 44,424 registered patent practitioners, of which approximately 25% are registered as patent agents and 75% as patent attorneys. We also found that while practitioners work for about 10,000 unique firms or companies, the top 10 firms have 4.3% of all of the registered practitioners.

2016 Top 10 Ranked Law Firms by number of patent practitioners

The following table summarizes the top 25 firms based on the number of registered practitioners, per information obtained from the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) at the USPTO as of July 12, 2016.

Top 25 Ranked Firms by number of patent practitionersPlease note that recent changes such as new hiring, may not appear in the above table, as not all attorneys or agents update their status as soon as it changes.

Further analysis indicates approximately 40% of registered practitioners work for firms or companies larger than 10 people. More than 20,000 are solo practitioners, meaning they are either not affiliated with any firms or work for themselves.

Of the total of 44,424 patent practitioners, we estimate about 15,000 or more are not active, meaning that they passed the patent bar exam at some point, but currently may be engaged in  non-patent related work. In other words, the estimated number of registered practitioners practicing patent law is less than 30,000.

Additionally, even though we observed practitioners with registration dates from the 1920s and 1930s who may still be active, about 67% of all practitioners were registered after the year 2,000, which means two-thirds of all practitioners have less than 16 years of experience  (the registration date for the oldest attorney is December 2nd, 1928).

Total Percentage of all Practitioners per year

In terms of residency, current registered practitioners reside in 48 countries, but 97% are located in the US. Canada ranks second with 766 practitioners registered to practice before the USPTO.

The distribution in the US is not evenly spread, as the top 10 ranked states have 61% of all practitioners. California, with 8,019 registered patent attorneys and agents, has more than twice as many as the second highest state, which is New York with 3357 practitioners.

Distribution of patent practitioners in the top 10 states

While the total number of practitioners has been declining, we estimate about 30,000 active practitioners are working for about 10,000 different firms indicating how fragmented the patent practice is. About 25% of all practitioners are patent agents. However, historical data suggests that on average one out of every three patent agents becomes a patent attorney at some point. About 90% of active practitioners have registration dates after 1985, which means the majority of practitioners retire with less than 30 years of practice.

In the following weeks, we will analyze and identify the top 25 companies with the largest number of registered practitioners.

Update: Several firms have contacted us and indicated that the USPTO data did not accurately reflect the total number of their active practitioners. Our source of data is USPTO and we plan to re-calculate this in early 2017. Please update the status of your practitioners before end of the year to ensure the accurate listing in our next update.

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