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US Patent and Trademark Office to pilot accelerated review of green technology patents

Choate Alert

 | December 14, 2009

 | Clean-Tech and Intellectual Property Groups

What you need to know:

On December 7, the US Patent and Trademark Office announced a pilot program that will accelerate the examination of certain green technology patent applications.  Pending patent applications in the green technology space will be eligible for special status and given expedited examination, which will have the effect of reducing the time it takes to receive a patent for these technologies by an average of one year.

What you need to do:

As this pilot program will only be open to the first 3,000 applications related to green technologies in which a proper petition is filed, if you have a patent application that was pending on or prior to December 8 that relates to a green technology, you should contact your patent attorney promptly to start the process of petitioning for expedited review under this pilot program.

 

On December 7, the US Patent and Trademark Office announced the launching of a pilot program designed to accelerate the timing of the examination of patents related to green technologies.

Goal of pilot program

According to the USPTO, the goal of this program is to “accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs and promote US competitiveness in this vital sector.”  By expediting the time required to patent these technologies, inventors will more quickly be able to secure funding, create businesses and jobs and bring green technologies to market. 

Scope of pilot program

This pilot program will be available to the first 3,000 pending patent applications related to green technologies that properly petition to be included in the program.  Though this pilot program will run for 12 months from its December 8 launch, the USPTO has stated that if this program is successful, it will examine ways to continue and expand this initiative.

Which applications are eligible?

This new pilot program is open for patent applications pending as of December 8 for which no office action has yet been issued that pertain to green technologies, including those related to:

  • environmental quality;
  • energy conservation;
  • environmentally friendly farming;
  • development of renewable energy resources;
  • environmental purification, protection or remediation; or
  • greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Eligible applications contain three or fewer independent claims and not more than 20 total claims, all of which are directed toward a single invention that materially enhances the quality of the environment or materially contributes to the discovery or development of renewable energy resources, the more efficient utilization and conservation of energy resources or greenhouse gas emission reduction. 

Effect of participation in pilot program

The USPTO will give accelerated review to the 3,000 patent applications included in this pilot program.  Currently, the average time to review a green technology patent is approximately 30 months from first office action and 40 months to a final decision.  The expectation is that, by participating in this pilot program, the examination time for these patent applications will be reduced by an average of one year.

How to petition for pilot program

Additional details on how to petition for inclusion in this pilot program will be available in the Federal Register at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/law/notices/74fr64666.pdf and via the USPTO’s website at http://www.uspto.gov

Conclusion

Given the limited size of this pilot program, inventors and companies with pending patent applications related to green technologies should promptly consult with their Choate attorneys to determine the appropriateness of petitioning for inclusion in this USPTO pilot program.

 

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