Last November the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) extended the deadline for filing petitions under the Green Technology Pilot Program. Through the pilot, USPTO provides 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. Since the pilot program began in December 2009, a total of 1,918 petitions have been granted to green technology patent applicants, and 328 patents have been issued.

Program statistics show that stakeholders participating in the Green Tech Pilot have obtained 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.


California-based Calera Corporation, which specializes in converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into green "reactive cements" that replace traditional "portland cement" commonly used in the construction of buildings, is one of many companies to have taken advantage of the program.

Calera's founder Brent Constantz envisioned a "green cement" alternative that could one day replace portland cement, the third largest source of man-made carbon dioxide on the planet. Portland cement, the world's most common type of cement, is used in everyday concrete, mortar, stucco and many types of grout. The manufacture of portland cement is detrimental to the environment contributing to: increased air pollution through dust and gas emissions; depleted resources through heavy fuel consumption; and damage to the countryside from quarrying.

The heart of the Calera process, referred to as Mineralization via Aqueous Precipitation (MAP), combines carbon dioxide flue gas from power plants with the Earth's natural waters and converts the gas into stable solid minerals similar to those found in the skeletons of marine animals and plants including metastable calcium and magnesium carbonate and bicarbonate minerals. These minerals can then be used to produce high reactive cements akin to portland cement without the negative environmental impacts derived from mining and processing.

The potential benefits for the process have caught the attention of countless Green advocates including the president of the Sierra Club and the co-founder of the U.S. Green Building Council.

"You really ought to be able to replace most of the world's need for cement with the by-product of sequestering most of the world's power plant emissions of CO2 - that would be game changing," said Carl Pope, President of the Sierra Club in a videotaped interview for Calera.

Interview with Carl Pope, President, Sierra Club

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"The potential is huge: It's like planting forests of trees through the pouring of concrete or bricks," said U.S. Green Building Council co-founder David Gottfried in an interview posted on Calera's website. "In everything I've seen, I have never seen anything with the potential that Calera has."

Interview with David Gottfried, Co-Founder, U.S. Green Building Council

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Julie Muyco, a 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."

In fact, Calera has been able to fast track twelve applications through the program including methods and systems for utilizing waste sources of metal oxides, CO2-sequestering formed building materials, and reduced-carbon footprint concrete compositions.

Calera has also been able to strengthen its position with investors and secure intellectual property rights abroad. Having issued patents, such as the twelve fast-tracked through the Green Technology Pilot Program, lends credibility to Calera's technology and facilitates collaborations and government interaction. These patents have served to establish Calera as main player in green technology with ideas that are worth more than just talking about. These patents show that Calera has revolutionary ideas worth protecting and ideas that work.

"We've seen great results so far with applications in the Green Technology Pilot Program and Calera Corporation is just one of many successful examples," Kappos said. "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."