The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is drowning in paperwork. To reduce its considerable backlog, the agency wants to dramatically change the rules governing examination of patent applications.

The PTO proposals, announced in January, would change current practice in substantial ways. Strategic and financial burdens would be shifted from the PTO to those seeking patents. This may reduce the agency’s backlog, but it would come at the expense of inventors, universities, research corporations and patent lawyers.

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