NOAA, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office create work-sharing program to advance green technology

The Department of Commerce’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today announced a collaboration to promote and advance further innovation in the climate and “green” technology areas, a key focus of the Biden administration.

The cornerstone of the collaboration is a work-sharing program that focuses on the intersection of intellectual property (IP) and climate and environmental technologies. The program, featuring the exchange of employees over the course of up to a year, will enhance cooperation among the agencies and strengthen their respective work to incentivize greater innovation in these critical areas.

Under the new program, USPTO and NOAA employees will serve out a “detail” at the sister agency for several months, infusing new knowledge into both agencies. USPTO expertise will help NOAA provide intellectual property training for its scientific workforce and support the NOAA Technology Partnerships Office with other lab to market initiatives. The goal will be to help researchers understand the importance of protecting intellectual property so that NOAA’s research and technology can better serve the public and inspire future innovation across NOAA’s mission.

Conversely, NOAA experts will provide training to USPTO patent examiners reviewing patent applications related to climate and environmental technologies, and will advise the agency on USPTO green initiatives to help foster innovations in these critical areas. USPTO patent examiners examine the applications of inventors seeking legal protection for their inventions in the United States in the form of patents. Examiners ensure that patented inventions meet a number of statutory requirements, including that they be new, novel, and not an obvious improvement over an existing invention.

“Fostering innovation to strengthen our nation’s resilience against climate change is core to our mission at the USPTO,” said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “I am thrilled to be working hand-in-hand with NOAA, our sister agency, to promote intellectual property protection for the agency’s climate innovations so these innovations can reach the market and solve problems.”

“Innovation is in our DNA at NOAA,” said Rick W. Spinrad, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere & NOAA Administrator. “For decades, we have been launching life-saving satellites into orbit, exploring our ocean’s deepest secrets, and conducting and supporting vital research to shore up our nation’s economic and environmental resilience. We are excited to be working with the USPTO to better understand and advance intellectual property protection for innovations borne out of the brilliant workforce of our agency and our research partners, for the benefit of all.”

The program formally kicked off on Monday, February 13 after months of strategy sessions between the agencies. It will be evaluated at its conclusion to determine if an extension is warranted. 

The collaboration will be formalized via an upcoming memorandum of understanding between the two agencies that will feature additional areas of work, including identifying new ways of streamlining, promoting, and celebrating innovation in key environmental technologies across the public and private sectors.


For more information on the collaboration, contact:

USPTO Communications

Paul Fucito,

Mandy Kraft,

NOAA Communications

Monica Allen,