U.S.P.TO. Launches Green Tech Pilot Program to Speed Green Patenting


Last week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) announced an expedited examination procedure for clean tech patent applications. 

The Green Technology Pilot Program allows applications relating to improving environmental quality, conserving energy, developing renewable energy resources or reducing greenhouse gas emissions to be advanced out of turn for substantive examination.

Applicants that wish to participate in the program need to file a petition with the PTO requesting participation and indicating that their patent application complies with the program requirements. 

The window of opportunity is nominally one year:  the program launched on December 8, 2009, and petitions must be filed before December 8, 2010.  However, only the first 3,000 petitions will be accepted.

The basic eligibility requirements are as follows:

the application is a non-reissue, non-provisional utility application filed before December 8, 2009 for which a first office action has not been issued;

the invention is classified in one of the specific technological classes approved as a “green technology” class;

the application has three or fewer independent claims, 20 or fewer total claims and no multiple dependent claims (the applicant can file a preliminary amendment to bring the application in compliance with this requirement);

the application claims a single invention directed to environmental quality, conserving energy, developing renewable energy resources or reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and

the applicant must request early publication of the application.

Compared to the established procedure for expedited examinations, the pilot program has the tremendous advantage that it does not shift much of the examination workload to the applicant by requiring submission of prior art analysis in an onerous Examination Support Document.

The PTO joins at least the U.K. Intellectual Property Office and the Korean Intellectual Property Office in creating a procedure to expedite green patenting.

Eric Lane Avatar

Eric Lane

Eric Lane, the founder and principal of Green Patent Law, is an intellectual property lawyer and registered U.S. patent attorney in New York and is a member of the bar in New York and California. Eric has more than two decades of experience working with wind, solar PV, CSP, biofuels, and geothermal, energy storage technologies, carbon capture and sequestration, medical devices, data communications, mechanical, chemical, internet and software.