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Patent Pending

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

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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 300,000applications and issues 180,000 new patents each year, is underfire for issuing too many invalid, broadly written patents.Consider the biotech industry, where people have been allowed topatent pieces of genes, waiting to cash in if someone finds aprofitable use for them. Battles are also underway in the softwareindustry over patents for Wi-Fi hot spots and paying for onlineorders with credit cards.

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