Now isn’t this interesting. If a small inventor (presumably this means someone who can legitimately click “SMALL ENTITY” on the patent application forms) abandons one application, they can get another application moved up in the system.
I’m not quite sure how abandoning one invention in favor of another protects an inventor, but it’s certainly an option worth discussing with your patent attorney. It’ll save you the cost of a double patent prosecution, if nothing else, but it doesn’t sound like it will protect the abandoned invention at all, so I intend to advise my clients to consider this very carefully before proceeding.
The USPTO is always trying to come up with ways to diminish their backlog of patent applications that await first office actions. Certainly getting an inventor to abandon an application would do that, but at what cost to the inventor?
Clearly, this option is not for everyone. Maybe for some, yes, but not for everyone.
The other thing they’re doing may work better for the reduction of the backlog in the long run: they’ve got a hiring frenzy going on right now. They’re looking for warm bodies to throw at the backlog (not always a good thing, but not always a bad thing, either). If you have any sort of technical expertise at all, and you like the idea of living in the DC/northern Virginia area, visit their website at www.uspto.gov to apply for the position of Patent Examiner. They have many open slots.