Researchers in a hurry to get their ideas off the drawing board and into the new defense race may take advantage of a special provision in U.S. patent law that allows rush treatment for anti-terrorism inventions. Scientists working in the areas of AIDS and cancer may already know about the rush rule; it has long allowed inventions in those areas to jump to the front of the line of applications awaiting review from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

After the crash of T.W.A. Flight 800 in 1996 once again raised the specter of organized attacks on domestic land, anti-hijacking devices, barricades, and other public safety-oriented inventions were added to the list of inventions entitled to ask for expedited handling.

Called an "application to make special," the speedy handling procedure costs an extra $130 in addition to the $740 patent application. But it may be worth it, suggested one patent...

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