Windy 500: GE Rotor Blade Patent Marks Milestone for USPTO Green Tech Pilot Program


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently announced that it has reached a milestone - issuance of the 500th patent through its Green Technology Pilot Program.

The honor goes U.S. Patent No. 8,029,241 (‘241 Patent), entitled “Wind turbine rotor blade with aerodynamic winglet” and owned by General Electric Company (GE).  The ‘241 Patent issued October 4, 2011.

GE has been a very active participant in the green tech fast track, and the ‘241 Patent is the 116th patent it has obtained through the program.

The ‘241 Patent is directed to a wind turbine (10) wherein each rotor blade (22) has a main foil section (42) and a winglet (46) pivotally connected to the main foil section (42).  

The winglet (46) pivots from an in-line position wherein the rotor blade has a first sweep length (68) to an articulated position wherein the rotor blade has a second, reduced sweep length (70), resulting in a decreased load on the rotor blades (22).

The rotor blades (22) have a deployable sleeve (50) extending from an end (48) of the winglet (46) to an end (44) of the main foil section (42).

The sleeve (50) provides an aerodynamic surface over the gap that would otherwise be created between the winglet (46) and the main foil section (42) when the winglet is in the articulated position.

The Green Technology Pilot Program expedites examination of patent applications relating to green technologies (see, e.g., previous posts here and here).

According to the USPTO press release, the average time between acceptance of a patent application into the program and a first office action on the merits is 68 days.

The application that matured into the ‘241 Patent was accepted on January 5, 2011 and received a first office action on March 24, 2011.  The initial application was filed on September 15, 2010, so the whole process from filing to grant took less than thirteen months.

According to the USPTO’s latest Green Petition Report Summary (green_report_summary20111020), dated October 20, 2011, a total of 4437 petitions for acceptance into the program have been filed, 2529 of those petitions have been granted, and now 606 patents have been granted through the program.

The Green Technology Pilot Program is set to end when either 3000 petitions are granted or on December 31, 2011, whichever comes first.

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.