The backlog of pending patent applications at the USPTO is growing. As of May 2022, the USPTO estimates an average pendency of approximately 20 months from filing to the mailing of a first office action. Applicants may be tempted to take advantage of and exploit the patent system to unreasonably delay prosecution and extend the patent term of a patent family member far beyond the lifetime of the original parent application. To prevent this gaming of the patent system in the hopes of extending patent term and to prevent prejudice to others, the equitable affirmative defense of prosecution laches may be raised to render an asserted patent unenforceable.
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