The U.S. patent system is designed to encourage technological innovation by granting inventors an exclusive right to profit from their discoveries. In recent years, however, many critics have complained that the system is actually impeding innovation. Critics say a hugely overburdened Patent and Trademark Office approves many dubious patents, some of which are used by so-called patent “trolls” to force companies using the patented devices into unjustified financial settlements. Meanwhile, a special federal appeals court created to handle patent cases is accused of misapplying the law and rewarding sometimes-abusive litigation. The Supreme Court is considering a case to tighten the standards for issuing patents, while Congress has been considering other proposed reforms. But the bills stalled because of a stalemate between high-tech industries supporting the measures and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, which say the current system is working well to promote technological progress.