The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Friday in a split decision that the Patent and Trademark Office did not overstep its authority in adopting a set of new rules that some intellectual property lawyers say fundamentally alter patent practice and threaten innovation.

Lawyers for the PTO say the four new PTO rules, issued in 2007, were constructed to reduce a backlog of unexamined patent applications by, among other things, limiting the number of claims per application, as well as the number of continuing applications and requests for continued examination. Critics of the rules say multiple claims are essential in protecting inventions.

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