The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced yesterday that the deadline for filing petitions under the Green Technology Pilot Program, originally set to expire on December 31 of this year, is being extended through March 30, 2012 or until 3,500 applications (500 more than the original cap of 3,000 applications) have been accorded special status under the program.
“In view of the success of the Green Technology Pilot Program the program will be extended until we receive 3,500 applications or reach the final program sunset date,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos. While the Green Technology program “will soon draw to a close, in the future all applicants may use the newly enacted Prioritized Examination (Track I) program, which is currently available to all technologies and categories of invention, to have their application accorded special status.”
According to the USPTO, program statistics show that stakeholders participating in the Green Technology Pilot Program have obtained patents much more quickly as compared to the standard examination process. Currently, the average time between granting of a green technology petition and first office action on the merits is just 78 days. In many instances, applicants have had their Green Technology inventions patented in less than one year from the application filing date. More than 2,900 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants since the pilot began in December 2009.
Prioritized Examination Track (Track I), which is part of the USPTO’s Three-Track Program, and is being offered up as an alternative for green patent applications once the Green Technology Program ends, is supposed to provide applicants with greater control over when their applications are examined and promote greater efficiency in the patent examination process. Track I allows applicants to have their patent applications processed to final disposition within 12 months from prioritized status being granted. However, Track I comes with hefty fees – $4,800, or $2,400 for a small entity, plus a $130 processing fee. As a result, while Track I will allow green technologies to move faster through the USPTO, they will be no longer be accorded special status and will have to pay the same premium as anyone else for accelerated examination.