On December 8, 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) implemented a Green Technology Pilot Program (“the Program”) to accelerate the examination of certain “green technology” patent applications filed before December 8, 2009. The green technologies pertain to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable resources, and greenhouse gas emission reduction. The purpose of the Program is to accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness in the renewable sector.
Normally, patent applications are examined in the order they are received by the USPTO. Under the Program, pending patent applications relating to green technology are given special status, and examined by the USPTO out of turn, without meeting all the usual requirements for accelerated examination (e.g., the filing of an examination support document). According to the USPTO, the Program could reduce average pendency times for green technologies by a year or more.
No fee is required to participate in the Program. However, participation in the Program is limited to the first 3,000 grantable petitions to make special, which only will be accepted if all the other Program requirements are met. Initially, the Program also was limited to applications filed before December 8, 2009, and was slated to end on December 8, 2010.
Effective November 10, 2010, the USPTO has extended the Program until December 31, 2011, and expanded the eligibility for the Program to include applications filed on or after December 8, 2009. These changes will permit more applications relating to green technologies to qualify for the Program. A full copy of the notice in the Federal Register announcing the extension and expansion of the Program may be accessed online.
The Program presents a simple no-cost means for expediting USPTO decisions relating to patent applications for green technologies. These time savings may lead to longer patent terms, and may assist inventors and business with efforts to commercialize green technologies.© MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLP