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Because there is no practical way for patent examiners to verify that the inventions claimed in patent applications actually work, a surprising number of patents are issued for inventions that have turned out to be imaginary, fraudulent or otherwise non-existent. What's more, as illustrated by the recent attempt by Labrador Diagnostics to assert a patent acquired from now-defunct Theranos against firms developing testing kits for COVID-19, these patents present a genuine threat to businesses operating in important sectors of the economy. While it is unrealistic to expect patent examiners to verify the functionality of every claimed invention, there are a range of administrative adjustments that could be made to reduce the number of fake inventions subject to patents.