The growing number of patent applications being filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by e-commerce companies is prompting some technology executives to question whether the PTO has the resources and staff to keep up.

And, this year the agency will begin to implement the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA), which is expected to have a dramatic impact on patent protection, enforcement and exploitation. The new law also paves the way for the agency to restructure itself to function more like a business organization.

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