CONTACT: Peter Pappas
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will pilot a program to accelerate the examination of certain "green" technology patent applications, Secretary Gary Locke announced on Monday. The new initiative, coming days before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, will accelerate the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness in this vital sector.
"American competitiveness depends on innovation and innovation depends on creative Americans developing new technology," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. "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."
Locke announced the USPTO pilot program at a press conference with U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today at the Commerce Department's headquarters.
"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 said. "Applications in this pilot program will see a significant savings in pendency, which will help bring green innovations to market more quickly."
Pending patent applications in green technologies will be eligible to be accorded special status and given expedited examination, which will have the effect of reducing the time it takes to patent these technologies by an average of one year. Earlier patenting of these technologies enables inventors to secure funding, create businesses, and bring vital green technologies into use much sooner.
Patent applications are normally taken up for examination in the order that they are filed. The average pendency time for applications in green technology areas is approximately 30 months to a first office action and 40 months to a final decision. Under the pilot program, for the first 3,000 applications related to green technologies in which a proper petition is filed, the agency will examine the applications on an accelerated basis.
Carl Horton, Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of General Electric, hailed the new initiative.
"We hail this initiative as an excellent incentive to fuel further innovation of clean technology and a terrific mechanism to speed the dissemination of these patented technologies throughout the world," Horton said.
Michael Sykes, an independent inventor who has spent the last 25 years working on technology to make homes more energy efficient, commented: " All my inventions relate to energy and energy inventions pay for themselves- so speeding up the process helps me as a businessman, and helps the end user start saving."
If successful, the USPTO will examine ways to continue and expand the initiative.