Expansion of the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot
Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos
Recently we announced the extension of the deadline to participate in the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot until December 31, 2011, or until 3,000 applications have been accepted into the pilot. Additionally we have eliminated the previous requirement that Green Technology Patent applications had to be filed with the USPTO before December 8, 2009, in order to be eligible for consideration under the program.
Meanwhile, the pace of innovation is increasing in all areas of green technology -- wind, solar, fuel cells, biomass, and geothermal, to name a few -- and I believe the USPTO should assist the inventor community in seeing the results of their efforts more quickly. So now, all unexamined pending and newly filed applications that qualify are eligible for participation in this pilot.
I am really pleased with this latest expansion of our Green Technology Pilot program, and with the reaction of our user community. A year ago, I wrote that if successful, the program may be expanded down the road. Well, here we are, down the road, and we have successfully accelerated the examination of many green technology patent applications. To date, there have been some 800 petitions granted for entry into the Green Technology Pilot, and 106 of these applications with granted petitions have already been issued as U.S. patents.
Program statistics show that stakeholders participating in the Green Tech Pilot can obtain 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 49 days. In many instances, applicants have had their Green Technology inventions patented in less than one year from the application filing date.
Julie Muyco, patent agent for Calera Corporation, noted, “Calera Corporation found that participating in the Green Technology Pilot Program has been extremely beneficial. Our participating applications were accelerated by more than a year and examined by responsive, cooperative examiners who were willing to work with us to define patentable subject matter in an expedient manner.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Matt Prater, Patent Attorney for Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, who noted, “I used the Green Technology Pilot Program to go from filing to allowance in 13 months.” Mr. Prater also noted that the accelerated examination accorded to Green patent applications provided “a great outcome for my client.”
Palo Alto-based attorney Richard Ogawa shared his own success with the program with Bloomberg News. He told reporter Susan Decker that his clients who used the Green Technology Pilot have been able to get their patents examined much more quickly and that they intend to seek more patents under the program.
Skyline Solar, manufacturer of High Gain Solar (HGS) arrays for the commercial, industrial, government and utility markets, recently announced that it has secured two patents through the Green Technology Pilot. In its press release, CEO Thomas Rohrs said, "The Green Technology Pilot Program has been critical to establishing the integrity of our intellectual property with potential customers, partners and investors, and has had a significant impact on the solar industry as a whole.”
Under the expansion of this pilot, we continue to advance the examination of green technology patents. And, earlier issuance of green technology patents enables inventors to secure funding, create new jobs and businesses, and bring vital green technologies into use much sooner.
I am extremely proud of the dedication that our patent examiners, union partners, and management at the USPTO have shown in support of this effort. And I'm thankful for the trust U.S. innovators have put in us by using the program so vigorously.
I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the pilot. What, if anything, can we do to enhance the program further, and how can we encourage more applicants to take advantage of it? Any ideas or solutions you have, please send them along.