Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Pilot to Accelerate Green Technology Applications

David Kappos
December 7, 2009
Remarks at Press Conference Announcing Pilot to Accelerate Green Technology Applications
U.S. Department of Commerce
(As Prepared)

Thank you Mr. Secretary for your kind introduction.

As you have rightly pointed out, it takes far too long for innovators and inventors in all industries to get patents. Although it is a testament to the strength of innovation in America, and around the world, that we have seen major increases in patent applications in recent years, this has created a backlog that is unacceptable -- and an average patent pendency period that delays the deployment of innovation to the marketplace. Unfortunately, the average processing times for green technology patents tend to be even longer, which means that the deployment of vital green technology is being unacceptably delayed.

Green Technology is of fundamental importance to sustainable development as well as to the growth of our economy. Time magazine recently recognized the importance of green innovations in its Top 50 Inventions of 2009 cover story. Among the green inventions Time cited -- and which the USPTO patented -- were the Philips Electronics LED light bulb, which uses only 10 watts of energy, but emits the equivalent of a 60w incandescent bulb and lasts 25 times as long; the smart thermostat -- the brainchild of inventor Seth Frader-Thompson -- which tells you how much energy your home is using and how much it's costing you; and Dow Chemical's Solar Shingle, a roof shingle that acts as a solar panel; among other notable green inventions.

As I have often said, the USPTO is committed to dramatically reducing the backlog and average patent pendency time across the board. As we work toward this goal, we are going to pilot a program that will give priority to applications that combat climate change and foster job creation in the green tech sector. The Green Tech patent pilot program will decrease the time it takes to obtain patent protection for green tech innovations by an average of 12 months. Although the pilot will be open to 3,000 applications, if successful, we may expand upon it further down the road.

As the Secretary noted, the USPTO will accord special accelerated status to patent applications for inventions that materially contribute to enhancing environmental quality; the discovery or development of renewable energy resources; the more efficient utilization and conservation of energy resources, or greenhouse gas emission reduction. The USPTO will provide regular reports on key metrics to let the public know how the pilot is doing, and is establishing a dedicated on-line feedback channel for public input that will help us evaluate the program.

I am pleased to note that we have representatives here from the public and private sector who are leaders in the development of green technology, and I would like to recognize them at this time.

From the University of Maryland, the Vice President for Research Dr. Mel Bernstein. The University of Maryland is nationally recognized as a center of research and innovation in many fields including green technology. As an aside, I should note that this past year the University of Maryland was selected as one of the greenest campuses in the country.

Mike Sykes, an independent inventor is with us today from Wake Forest, North Carolina. Mike is the inventor of the Enertia Building System, a method of building homes and offices in which natural material and forces are used to create a comfortable environment without the use of fuel or electricity.

Bob Proctor is the CEO of FlexEL Incorporated. His company offers an improved thin film battery product that responds to the need for more power-efficient electronic devices in a variety of applications. Among thin film batteries, it has the world's highest energy storage density.

The Environmental Protection Agency is, by the very nature of its mission, a key driver in the development of green technology. Sharon Bauer, the program coordinator for EPA's technical transfer program is with us today. Green technology developed by the Agency is in use throughout the country and the world. EPA's hydraulic hybrid power-train system has been installed in UPS delivery trucks, reducing pollution and increasing fuel efficiency. And EPA's Saturation Sampler System is utilized worldwide to monitor indoor air quality.

Finally, Carl Horton, the Chief Intellectual Property Counsel for General Electric is with us this morning. GE has one of the world's largest clean energy technology portfolios-and it grows every year. The company invested $1.4 billion in cleaner tech research and development in 2008 and is quickly approaching a $1.5 billion annual cleaner tech. R & D target by 2010. Thank you all for joining us today.

In closing -- this pilot program will bolster green tech innovation, while spurring economic growth and the creation of green jobs that put Americans to work. We look forward to working with the green tech innovation community to make this program a success, and to increasing the patent system's role in accelerating the deployment of innovations that address the world's most pressing challenges.

Thank you.