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They say after 200 years of lumbering down the tracks, the intellectual-property process in the United States is beginning to go off the rails. Branches of the government are intervening where they never have before. Opposing camps, many with money and influence, are forming. Small inventors are diverted from where they can make the greatest contributions. And a culture of litigation, circumvention, and secrecy has evolved from an area where openness and law had long ruled.