Speed Bumps Emerge on KIPO Green Tech Fast Track


In a previous post I wrote about the Korean Intellectual Property Office’s (KIPO) expedited examination program for green technology patent applications. 

According to KIPO, the “super speed” program is supposed to provide examination results in just one month.

I recently tried to take advantage of the KIPO program and move a green patent application along in a super speedy manner.

But when I requested that our Korean patent firm use the green tech fast track, I received a rather surprising response.  Here’s an excerpt:

[P]lease be advised that, in order to participate in an expedite[d] examination procedure based on the Green Technology in Korea, the applicant should receive certification or funding under the Korean Basic law of low-carbon green growth.  Therefore we cannot receive an approval for the expedited examination for the present application from the KIPO based on the Green Technology.

Some further research revealed that KIPO has unduly restricted access to the green tech fast track by attaching the “certification or funding” requirement to the most significant categories of green technology.

The Hanyang firm’s report on the Korean fast track program lays out the requirements and provides a useful summary.

The KIPO green tech program has seven major technology categories that are automatically eligible for the fast track.  These automatic categories include patent applications relating to:

(1) noise and vibration prevention facilities or methods and sound proofing or dust proofing

(2) water quality contamination prevention facilities or methods

(3) air pollution prevention facilities or methods

(4) waste disposal facilities or methods

(5) facilities or methods of livestock excretions management, purification and disposal

(6) recycling facilities or methods

(7) sewage disposal facilities or methods

One problem is that some of the automatically eligible categories are rather obscure.  A bigger problem is what has been left out and therefore is not automatically eligible. 

An eighth category of technologies lists several subcategories which are eligible only if the invention has “received financial support or certification from the government.”  These subcategories include the lion’s share of important green technologies:

(8)(a) new renewable energy technology

(8)(b) carbon reduction energy technology

(8)(c) high powered water handling technology

(8)(d) LED application technology

(8)(e) green transportation system related technology

(8)(f) green city related technology

(8)(g) technology that economizes and efficiently uses energy and resources to minimize greenhouse gas and contaminated substances

(8)(h) any technology belonging to one of (a) to (g) that fuses with another technology

These enumerated green technology subcategories of category eight are fleshed out with some examples, to make crystal clear exactly what KIPO is shutting out of its green tech program, e.g., solar, wind energy, geothermal energy, tidal energy, wave energy, bioenergy, batteries, carbon capture and storage, LED lighting, hybrid cars, plug-in hybrid cars.

So wind energy and hybrid vehicles are subordinated to livestock excretions disposal and vibration prevention methods.  Huh?

Needless to say, this is a major disappointment.  The KIPO fast track program won’t be of much service to the clean tech industry unless it’s overhauled so the large and important eighth category of green technologies is made automatically eligible.

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.