On December 8, 2009, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that the
U.S. Patent Office, USPTO, will launch a pilot program to accelerate
examination of patent applications focusing on ”green” technology.
– American competitiveness depends on innovation and innovation depends on creative Americans developing new technology. By ensuring that many new products will receive patent protection more quickly, we can encourage our brightest innovators to invest needed resources in developing new technologies and help bring those technologies to market more quickly, says Gary Locke.
Priorities include innovations that ”materially enhance the quality of the environment by contributing to the restoration or maintenance of the basic life-sustaining natural elements” or ”materially contribute to (1) the discovery or development of renewable energy resources, (2) the more efficient utilization and conservation of energy resources; or (3) the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.”
In order to be prioritized, the patent applications must also meet a range of specific requirements and the pilot program applies to only the first 3.000 patent applications that meet these requirements. However, it will not be easier to get a ”green” technology patent issued, since standards to assess claim patentability apply to these applications in the same way as for patents related to other technologies.
– It is positive that the United States so clearly highlight the importance of accelerating the development in this field and it is hardly a coincidence that the information on the project went out at during the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen. It will be interesting to see if patent offices in other countries will follow, says Leif Jörgensson, Patent Manager at Ström & Gulliksson's office in Malmö.
The USPTOs average pendency time for applications in environmental technology areas is approximately 30 months to a first office action and 40 months to a final decision. The new pilot program will result in a much shorter turnaround time for this type of applications provided that they are accurate.
– Every day an important green tech innovation is hindered from coming to market is another day we harm our planet and another day lost in creating green businesses and green jobs, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos says.
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