USA Today has a good article called Watch Out for Copycats That Can Steal Your Business Idea. Includes an interview with David Kappos, director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office.
The U.S. Patent Office released a new page that will provide up-to-date information about the current status of the U.S. Patent Office (e.g. current first office pendency, current application backlog, fiscal year production, number of patent examiners, etc.). There is some good data on this Data Visualization Center by the USPTO for those interested.
The link to the Data Visualization Center is http://www.uspto.gov/dashboards/patents/main.dashxml.