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Patent Pending

U.S. patent laws are in flux, so be on the lookout for change.

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This story appears in the October 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Have an idea for the next big thing? You'll need a patent, but pay attention to big changes in store for U.S. patent law.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which receives 300,000 applications and issues 180,000 new patents each year, is under fire for issuing too many invalid, broadly written patents. Consider the biotech industry, where people have been allowed to patent pieces of genes, waiting to cash in if someone finds a profitable use for them. Battles are also underway in the software industry over patents for Wi-Fi hot spots and paying for online orders with credit cards.

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