Major changes in the patent law (Title 35 of the U.S. Code) seem to require a gestation period extending over at least two congresses. A new and unannounced patent office policy may help end the current gestation period. But two other major stumbling blocks remain.

Even before the major studies of the patent system by the National Academy of Science and the Federal Trade Commission in 2003 and 2004, most observers of the patent system saw the need for some major changes in U.S. patent law. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been overwhelmed by the sheer number of new patent applications filed (the backlog is now 1 million and growing) and by the similar growth in published information. Patent infringement litigation, always complex, has become more so, with charges of inequitable conduct (aka, fraud on the patent office) becoming ever more common and ever more complicated.

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