With a backlog of more than 700,000 patent applications, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office needs all the help it can get. It’ll have plenty to choose from — in response to a recent patent examiner vacancy announcement, the agency was flooded with more than 4,000 applications.

The PTO will hire 250 of them, part of a push to reduce chronic backlog problems. It now takes about three years on average for a patent to issue.

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