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Utilizing traditional filing procedures, an applicant for a U.S. patent can expect to wait on average more than three years after the filing of a patent application to receive a final determination on patentability from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). That is a long time to wait for a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” from the USPTO in the form of either a notice of allowance or an appealable final rejection. This delay can cause discomfort for, and negatively affect the valuation of, companies that rely on patents to protect their business interests, because the substantive patent rights—e.g., rights to exclude others from making, using and selling the invention—do not take effect until after the USPTO completes its examination of the patent application. The applicant does not have any substantive rights while a patent application is pending.