USPTO expands and extends Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the expansion and extension of the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program, which was initially launched in June 2022. Beginning on June 6, 2023, the USPTO will expand the program eligibility requirements to encompass a more robust group of innovations in any economic sector that advance progress toward achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Included innovations will be those designed to: 

  • Remove greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere; 
  • Reduce and/or prevent additional greenhouse gas emissions; and/or 
  • Monitor, track, and/or verify greenhouse gas emission reductions. 

The expansion also includes an increase in the maximum number of nonprovisional applications an inventor is allowed to “make special,” or those that qualify for expedited initial review by the agency under the pilot program.

"Continuing this program is an important part of our efforts to incentivize and widen access to the intellectual property system for those inventors on the cutting edge of technologies that effectively address climate change," said Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. “Accelerated review of climate change-related patent applications provides another tool to help move these innovations from idea to impact.” 

“NOAA is a proud supporter of the USPTO’s Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program to help advance cutting-edge innovations that mitigate the effects of climate change,” said Dr. Richard W. Spinrad, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere & National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator. “This initiative fits cleanly into the Biden administration’s clean energy agenda that seeks to address the climate crisis by tapping into our country’s innovative spirit to help preserve our environmental sustainability for generations to come. We are excited to work with our sister agency—the USPTO—and all of Commerce to move this initiative forward.” 

As with the existing program, qualifying utility nonprovisional applications accepted into the expanded program will be advanced out of turn (accorded special status) until a first action on the merits—typically the first substantive examination—is complete. Applicants will not be required to satisfy the current requirements of the accelerated examination program or the prioritized examination program.  

The expanded program will run from June 6, 2023 until either June 7, 2027, or the date the USPTO accepts a total of 4,000 grantable petitions (taking into account both the existing and expanded programs), whichever occurs earlier, subject to the USPTO’s discretion to terminate prior.  

The expansion and extension of this program supports the USPTO’s ongoing commitment to address climate change by encouraging and accelerating innovations that lead to net-zero emissions. By affording more opportunities for participation with a broader pool of eligible innovations, the expanded program aims to complement other efforts to fight against climate change.

Additional information on the conditions, eligibility requirements, and guidelines of this program is available in the 2022 Federal Register Notice and the 2023 Federal Register Notice, as well as on the USPTO’s Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program webpage