An anonymous reader writes "If you think the average wait of 28.3 months for a patent to be approved is ridiculous, don't complain to Gilbert P. Hyatt. The 76-year-old inventor has been waiting over forty years for a ruling on whether his electronic signal to control machinery should be granted a patent. 'It's totally unconscionable,' said Brad Wright, a patent lawyer with Banner & Witcoff in Washington who specializes in computer-related applications and isn't involved in Hyatt's case. 'The patent office doesn't want to be embarrassed that they might issue a broad patent that would have a sweeping impact on the technology sector. Rather than be embarrassed, they're just bottling it up.'"