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With the current reported patent application backlog in excess of 600,000, and application pendency periods stretching to three and four years — sometimes longer — for certain technologies, creative minds are inspired to consider alternative ways to protect innovation. One such idea is what is sometimes called a “petty patent,” a “utility model,” or an “innovation patent,” various flavors of which exist in some foreign countries.

A recent article proposes a “limited patent” that would be based on registration, not examination, and would have a four-year term. The proposal is intriguing, and offers a good base for further discussion.

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