USPTO to fast track patent applications covering “green” technologies

The USPTO recently announced that it will launch a program to speed up examination of certain patent applications covering “green” technologies. 

According to the USPTO, the current wait time for review of patent applications covering green technologies is 30 to 40 months.  Under the new program, the USPTO proposes that applications covering green technologies be given “special status” that will reduce this wait time by approximately one year. 

The pilot portion of the program will be limited to 3,000 patent applications, and applicants must file a petition to request the special status. 

The USPTO has not yet published details explaining exactly what technologies will qualify as “green” technologies under the program.  Also, the USPTO has not yet explained whether the program will cover already-filed applications or just new applications.  The USPTO expects to publish more details about the program in the Federal Register soon.

UPDATE:  The USPTO published a notice containing guidelines for the program in the December 8, 2009 issue of the Federal Register.  Under the guidelines, applicants holding applications filed before December 8, 2009 in certain technology classes may participate in the program by filing a Petition to Make Special.  No filing fee is required for the petition, but a request for early publication and associated fee must be included with the petition. 

In order to qualify, an application must be classified in one of certain listed USPTO classifications.  The general categories of classification are:

  • alternative energy production;
  • energy conservation;
  • environmentally friendly farming; and
  • environmental purification, protection, or remediation.

The Notice includes a complete list of the classifications.

One response to “USPTO to fast track patent applications covering “green” technologies

  1. There’s little question that “green” technology is increasingly critical to preservation of the environment, and I am glad to see the USPTO take this step. However, the decision also appears to be politically motivated, especially considering the timing of this move. It’s certainly nothing new for politics and patent law to be intertwined. Still, one hopes that Kappos et al. have paid heed not only to the political points scored for this decision, but have also thoroughly considered other potential consequences (both positive and negative) of this preferential treatment. It will be interesting to see how all this unfolds.

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