Under a new definition of patent lifetimes in effect since June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) hopes inventors who process their patent applications expeditiously can obtain an additional year or two of patent protection. But for scientists in the biotechnology industry, the question remains whether their inventions can be pushed through the system any faster.

And even if PTO shortens the time to process complex patent applications for biotech-related drugs and assays, the industry must also secure quick approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before any product can benefit from the longer patent lifetime touted by the patent office.

Tom DesRosier STRATEGY: Tom DesRosier says scientists provide key input in patent applications.

The changes in U.S. patent law were triggered by a new set of international trade rules, known as the General Agreement...

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