YES! One of the often cited reasons for not pursuing patents is that they take too long to obtain. In response to this concern, the US Patent office has implemented a procedure that enables applicants to make a request, when an application is field, to expedite examination of the application.
Based on recently published statistics, the vast majority of these requests are being granted (if submitted properly) and cases are being allowed within 11 months from filing (assuming they are patentable).
In fast moving spaces such as social games, mobile apps and social media, this procedure can be very effective to rapidly obtain much needed patents.
Understanding what can be protected, how to protect it and how to do so expeditiously is often challenging for many companies. For more information on IP protection strategies see our client alert. For more information on expediting patent grants contact Pillsbury's Social Media Team