Patent Office Expands Green Technology Pilot Program to More Inventions

The USPTO recently announced that it is revising its Green Technology Pilot Program to allow more categories of technology to be eligible for expedited processing under the program. Eligibility for the pilot program, which was designed to promote the development of green technologies, had previously been limited to applications within a select number of U.S. classifications. The USPTO has removed that requirement. By allowing more inventions related to green technologies to be accorded special status and receive expedited examination, it is hoped that the Green Technology Pilot Program will accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs and promote U.S. competitiveness in this vital sector.

“There has been a tremendous amount of interest in the Green Technology Pilot Program, and we would like to enable applicants whose inventions did not fall within the initial classifications eligible for the program to be eligible,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. “By expanding the eligibility criteria for this program, will further accelerate the development of critical green technologies while creating new jobs.”

Under the Green Technology Pilot Program, pending patent applications in green technologies are eligible to be accorded special status and given expedited examination. Patent applications are normally taken up for examination in the order that they are filed. Under the pilot program, for the first 3,000 applications related to green technologies in which a grantable petition is filed, the agency will examine the applications on an expedited basis.

When the Green Technology Pilot Program was announced in December 2009, the program was limited to inventions in certain classifications in order to assist the USPTO in balancing the additional workload and to gauge the resources needed for the program. The USPTO determined that the classification requirement is unnecessary because the workload has been balanced with other mechanisms, and the requirement was causing the denial of petitions for a number of green technology applications that would have otherwise qualified for the program.

To date, more than 950 requests have been filed by applicants who wish for their application to be eligible for the Green Technology Pilot Program. Only 342 of those have been granted, primarily because many of the inventions weren’t in classifications that were eligible. The lifting of the classification requirements is expected to allow many more applications to be eligible for the program. As there is no guarantee that the window for this program will remain open beyond December 8, 2010, or the first 3,000 applications, applicant’s with potentially-eligible inventions should not delay in filing their applications.While only a small portion of the 3,000 applications have been granted special satus as “green”, the remaining slots may be quickly snatched up with the lifting of the classification requirements.

To participate in the pilot program, applicant must file a petition to make special under the Green Technology Pilot Program that satisfies all other requirements set forth in the December 8, 2009, Federal Register notice.

Additional information on the Green Technology Pilot Program can be found here.

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