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Applicants for U.S. patents are not always aware that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) generally takes two to four years — and often even longer — before granting a patent. Although the USPTO has long had a rarely used program enabling an applicant to request examination of a case out of turn, that program changed markedly in August 2006, when the USPTO implemented a procedure called “Accelerated Examination.”

On March 13, 2007, the USPTO granted the first patent processed under the Accelerated Examination program — U.S. Patent No. 7,188,939, titled “Ink Cartridge,” to Brother Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha. This was less than six months after Brother’s Sept. 29, 2006 application filing — considerably faster than the 25 months from filing to issuance typically required in the field of ink cartridge technology.

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