Following the example of accelerated examination programs for green inventions in the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and the U.K., Canada has instituted its own fast track for patents with green subject matter.
It is hoped that “[a]ccelerating the prosecution of patent applications relating to environmental (green) technologies within the Canadian intellectual property system will foster investment and expedite commercialization of technologies that could help to resolve or mitigate environmental impacts or to conserve the natural environment and resources.”
Eligible applicants save the usual CA$500 fee required to expedite a patent application under Canada’s other fast track programs. To qualify, the applicant must submit a declaration stating that their application relates to technology the commercialization of which would help to resolve or mitigate environmental impacts or conserve the natural environment and resources. Applications that are currently abandoned must be reinstated before April 30, 2011 in order to be eligible for advanced examination.
Under the new program, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) will provide a first office action to the applicant within two months, as opposed to the ordinary wait time of 21-33 months. Of course, this program only accelerates examination, it does not lower the substantive standards of patentability.
It will be interesting to see how Canada’s definition of an eligible green technology works out. At first blush, it appears to be a middle ground between the U.K.’s definition, viewed by some as overly broad, and the U.S. standard, which has been criticized for being overly narrow. It will also be instructive to compare the number of applications filed under this program to those filed with its counterparts abroad, particularly the U.S., where relatively few green patent applications have sought accelerated examination. Also, as CIPO will not consider the accuracy of the supporting declaration, another possible issue is whether applicants of non-green technologies will attempt to sneak their applications in under this program.