Get a patent in about a year? The prospect is tempting for applicants frustrated with U.S. patent examination periods that regularly exceed the gestation period of the Asian elephant — about 22 months.[FOOTNOTE 1]

With a 600,000-plus patent backlog, and “official” average pendency periods ranging up to 44 months (for applications relating to computer architecture, software and information security, as of October 2005),[FOOTNOTE 2] the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is reviewing a number of ways to decrease patent prosecution times while increasing the quality of the examination process.

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