June's advice article
Accelerated Review of Green Technology Patent Applications
On December 8, 2009, the USPTO launched a pilot program to accelerate the review of green technology patent applications. Patent applications are examined in order by filing date. The Green Technology Pilot Program was implemented to take those patent applications that pertained to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy or greenhouse gas emission reduction and advance those applications to the front of the line for expedited examination.
Since the pilot was launched and published in the Federal Register, there have been two modifications to the program. The first eliminated the classification requirement and was published in the Federal Register on May 21, 2010. The second was published in the Federal Register on October 15, 2010, and expanded and extended the program to include applications filed, until either 3,000 petitions are granted or the deadline of December 31, 2011, for participation is reached,
Since it’s inception, the USPTO has granted over 1,6oo petitions for participation in the green technology pilot program and issued nearly 300 patents in fields pertaining to green technologies. There is a green petition report summaryavailable on our website for future updates.
For your information, here is a summary of the requirements for participation in the green technology pilot program. This information can also be found on USPTO form PTO/SB/0420. Detailed information is available on uspto.gov.
Green Technology Pilot Program Qualifications
- The application must be a non-reissue, non-provisional utility application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a), or an international application that has entered the national stage in compliance with 35 U.S.C. 371, regardless of the filing date of the application. Reexamination proceedings are excluded from this pilot program.
- The application must contain three or fewer independent claims and twenty or fewer total claims. The application must not contain any multiple dependent claims. Claims are the parts of a patent that define the invention, and are the items that are legally enforceable. Dependent claims refer back to and further limit another claim or claims in the same patent application. For applications that contain more than three independent claims, twenty total claims, or multiple dependent claims, applicants must file a preliminary amendment in compliance with 37 CFR 1.121 to remove the excess claims or the multiple dependent claims at the time the petition to make special is filed. A petition to make special is a formal request submitted to the USPTO asking that a patent application be examined ahead of the other pending applications in the same technological art, in this case, under the Green Technology Pilot Program.
- The claims must be directed to a single invention that materially enhances the quality of the environment, or that materially contributes to the discovery or development of renewable energy resources, the more efficient utilization and conservation of energy resources, or green house gas emission reduction. The petition must include a statement that, if the USPTO determines that the claims are directed to multiple inventions in a restriction requirement), applicant will agree to make an election without traverse in a telephonic interview, and elect an invention that meets the eligibility requirements in section II or III of the notice (i) cited above. Making an election without traverse means complying with the examiner’s restriction requirement without further argument and proceeding with examination on those elected claims.
- The petition to make special must be timely filed electronically using the USPTO electronic filing system, EFS-Web, and selecting the document description of “Petition for Green Tech Pilot” on the EFS-Web screen. Applicants should use form PTO/SB/420, which is available as a Portable Document Format (PDF) fillable form in EFS-Web and on uspto.gov.
- The petition to make special must be filed at least one day prior to the date that a first Office action (which may be an Office action containing only a restriction requirement) appears in the Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system. Applicants may check the status of the application using PAIR.
- The petition to make special must be accompanied by a request for early publication in compliance with 37 CFR 1.219 and the publication fee set forth in 37 CFR 1.18(d).
Continuing its commitment to green technologies, the USPTO held its first ever Cleantech Customer Partnership meeting in April at the agency’s Alexandria, Va., headquarters. The event brought clean technology stakeholders together to share ideas, experiences and insights. It also provided a forum for discussion on how the USPTO can improve and expand its clean technology programs.
Speaking at the session USPTO Director David Kappos noted that, “Green technology innovations can help us protect our environment and improve our planet, and every day that an important new clean tech innovation is held back from the market represents a lost opportunity to create 21st century jobs and businesses. The feedback clean tech stakeholders provide is essential in our efforts to continuously improve the quality of our programs and services.”
Clean technology includes products and services that improve operational performance, productivity or efficiency while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste or pollution. Alternative energy sources, water and gas purification and soil remediation, as well as other technologies centered on increasing energy efficiency and non-toxic production also incorporate clean technology.
Leading industry experts attending the meeting provided an overview of the clean technology landscape. They addressed the importance of regional accelerators, gave an update on clean technology patents, and highlighted the benefits of the USPTO’s Green Technology Pilot Program.