December 10, 2009Client Alert

USPTO to Accelerate Review of Green Technology Patents to Speed Deployment to Marketplace

On December 8, 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) indicated that they will be implementing a Green Technology Pilot Program to accelerate the examination of certain “green technology” patent applications. The purpose of the program is to accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness in this renewable sector.

Normally, new patent applications are taken up for examination in the order of their United States filing date. The new Green Technology Pilot Program will permit applications pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy resources, or greenhouse gas emission reduction to be advanced out of turn without meeting all of the onerous requirements of the existing accelerated examination program. This can mean accelerating the time it takes to get a patent by one full year or more.

In order to participate in the Green Technology Pilot Program, patent applicants will need to file a petition to the USPTO requesting participation in the program and indicating that their patent application is compliant with the requirements for the program. The program is only for patent applications currently on file with the USPTO, and does not include patent applications filed after December 8, 2009. The USPTO will accept the first 3,000 petitions to make special under the Green Technology Pilot Program in these previously filed applications. The applicant must file the petition for accelerated examination before December 8, 2010, and must file the petition at least one day prior to the date that a first Office action on the application is issued. The USPTO will not be charging any fee to participate in the program.

In order to participate in the program, the patent application must meet at least the following requirements:

  1. Be a non-reissue, non-provisional utility application filed before December 8, 2009.

  2. Be classified by the USPTO in a specific technological class approved as being related to “green technology.”

  3. Have three or fewer independent claims, 20 or fewer total claims and no multiple dependant claims. An amendment to the application can be filed to make the claims of the application compliant with this requirement.

  4. Have claims that are directed to a single invention that materially enhances the quality of the environment, or that materially contributes to: (1) The discovery or development of renewable energy resources; (2) the more efficient utilization and conservation of energy resources; or (3) greenhouse gas emission reduction.

  5. Must request early publication of the application.

If you currently have a patent application pending with the USPTO and would like to inquire whether your application can be considered for accelerated examination under this program, please contact the author of this alert or your Michael Best attorney.

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