I don't know if the patent office is playing politics or not, but congress certainly is (especially the House of Representatives). It appears the idea is to find additional funding for other things wherever they can, with very little, if any, concern for the adverse ramifications caused. The patent reform bill should have been passed in some form long ago, but I doubt if we'll see it this year.
How does a fast track system ensure that earlier filed standard track patents get priority for allowance by virtue of their earlier filing? Obviously a related problem already exists today since patent applications in the same subject area are being processed in parallel by different examiners. Do the examiners search through earlier filed pending applications as well as issued and rejected patents for evidence of prior art? Even with everything on the "same" track, the time lines can be very different. I filed a pair of closely related patent applications on December 8, 2008. One received first action on August 3, 2009 and final action on January 19, 2010. The other still awaits first action as of April 28, 2011!
This gave me visions of military folks going door to door selling cookies and muscling in on the Girl Guides territories causing an all out gang war. Heavily armed battalions wiping out entire troops of Girl Guides ... Oh the horror.
Yikes, did I ever go off on a tangent.
Return From Interrupt.
You can block an IP infringing device if you have sufficient lawyer allocated funds and if you see the infringing product before it's hammered your business. If your product is popular enough, you may very well then have to fight to block a continuous stream of infringing products.
That's probably part of the reason that product design cycles are so fast these days. In the past, companies had to keep innovating and improving to keep ahead of legitimate competition. These days, it seems that not only is it a race against those legitimate competitors, but also against a host of cheap knock offs.
The thieves in Congress have their hands in everyone's pockets. Patent fees should stay within the patent office to be their operating budget. More applications means more examiners, or is that too simple for Senator Ima Corruptass to understand? In fact, ALL agencies should generate their own source of income, including the military.