Last December, the US Patent Office implemented a pilot program that permits patent applications pertaining to green technologies to advance out of turn for examination. On October 20, the program was extended until December 31, 2011 and now includes all non-reissue, non-provisional patent applications yet to receive a first office action, regardless of when the application was filed. In addition the US Patent Office has recently expanded the technologies that qualify for expedited examination. Technologies or inventions eligible for the program include the following three categories:
- discovery or development of renewable energy resources, including ;
- more efficient utilization and conservation of energy resources (e.g. enhance the quality of the environment by contributing to the restoration or maintenance of the basic life-sustaining natural elements); and
- greenhouse gas emission reduction.
The first category (“renewable energy resources’’) includes hydroelectric, solar, wind, renewable biomass, landfill gas, ocean (including tidal, wave, current, and thermal), geothermal, and municipal solid waste, as well as the transmission, distribution, or other services directly used in providing electrical energy from these sources. The second category (“more efficient use or conservation of energy resources”) includes inventions relating to the reduction of energy consumption in combustion systems, industrial equipment, and household appliances. The third category (“greenhouse gas emission reduction”) includes nuclear power generation technology, fossil fuel power generation, and greenhouse gas-abatement.
The goal of the program is to stimulate investment in green, clean tech by allowing entrepreneurs to secure funding, and to accelerate bringing these technologies to market by having them backed by the fast granting of patent protection. Use of this program is encouraged by not requiring any government fee for participation.
The program offers the potential to substantially reduce the pendency of green, clean tech patent applications. At present, such green patent applications not in the program have an average pendency of 28 months for a first office action, and 40 months for a final decision.
In addition to the US, other countries, including Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, and the United Kingdom have various accelerated patent application procedures for patent application related to green, clean tech.
If you have developed green, clean technology and wish to seek expedited patent protection, and/or would like more information regarding these accelerated patent examination programs, please contact Stephen J. Weyer who concentrats his practice on the patent protection of green, clean tech inventions, at [email protected] or 703.837.3908.