Patent Law Alert: USPTO Announces Pilot Program to Speed Up Green Tech Patents
By John A. Rafter, Jr.
On December 7, 2009 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") announced the launch of a pilot program to accelerate the examination of certain green technology patent applications.
As previously reported, pendency for patent applications continues to lengthen and the backlog of patent applications continues to grow. The USPTO reports that the average pendency time for applications in green technology areas is approximately 30 months for a first office action and 40 months for a final decision. That's over three years!
Under the Green Technology Pilot Program, pending patent applications in certain green technologies will be eligible to be accorded special status and given expedited examination, which will reduce the time it takes to patent these technologies by an average of one year, according to the USPTO.
Patent applications are normally taken up for examination in the order that they are filed, but under the Green Technology Pilot Program, applications pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy, or greenhouse gas emissions reduction will be advanced out of turn for examination without meeting all of the current requirements of the accelerated examination program (e.g., examination support document). The catch: the USPTO will accept only the first 3,000 petitions to make special, and the petitions must be filed before December 8, 2010 (unless the program is extended).
If you have a company with early stage technology in need of accelerating patent protection to secure funding or otherwise protect your market, this program might be for you.
If you have questions regarding the foregoing or any other aspect of the USPTO's Pilot Program, please contact one of the Stoel Rives patent attorneys.