USPTO Announces Accelerated Examination Pilot Program For Green Technology Patent Applications


On December 8, 2009, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) published notice of its Pilot Program for Green Technologies Including Greenhouse Gas Reduction. The pilot program allows certain patent applications involving "green technologies" to be granted special status to accelerate their examination.

Eligible applications under the pilot program include those pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy resources, or greenhouse gas emission reduction. To be considered for this special status, the application must be pending before December 8, 2009, and must not have already received a first office action (including an action containing only a restriction requirement). In addition, the applicant must electronically file a "petition to make special" before December 8, 2010, according to the following requirements:

The application must be a non-provisional utility application filed under 35 U.S.C. 111(a) or 35 U.S.C. 371. Reissue and reexamination applications are ineligible. The application must fall within one of approximately 79 patent classifications set forth in the pilot program notice. The application must not contain more than three independent claims and 20 total claims. The petition must be accompanied by a request for early publication of the application. The applicant must agree to make a telephonic election without argument if the USPTO determines that more than one invention is being claimed. If the application itself does not explain how the invention materially enhances environmental quality by restoring or maintaining life-sustaining natural elements, or how the invention contributes to the discovery or development of renewable energy resources or their efficient utilization and conservation, or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, then such an explanation must accompany the petition.

Although the USPTO estimates that approximately 25,000 currently pending patent applications meet these eligibility requirements, the USPTO will accept only the first 3,000 petitions before reevaluating its workload and resource...

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