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'New Physics' Finds a Haven at the Patent Office

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Science  21 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5418, pp. 1252-1254
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5418.1252

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Dozens of recent patents have been awarded for devices that invoke principles outside accepted science, such as exotic nuclear physics and psychic forces, offering what some onlookers see as a disturbing window on the patent process. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is hiring at a frantic pace to keep up with the 8% annual increase in patent applications. The result, in some cases, is inspectors who have little experience--or are themselves devotees of fringe technology (see sidebar).