The U.S. Patent Office extended its expedited examination of patent applications pertaining to green technologies from December 31, 2011, to March 30, 2012, or until an additional 500 applications have been granted accelerated examination. The extension was approved on December 15, 2011.
Under this now extended program, patent applications directed to various green/clean technologies are allowed to advance out of turn for examination.
The technologies that qualify for expedited examination include:
1) discovery or development of renewable energy resources; 2) 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 3) 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.
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.
For more information on this topic, please read our October 2011 client e’alert.
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. Stephen concentrates his practice on the patent protection of green/clean tech inventions and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-837-3908.