The Latvian Patent Office (LPO) announcedÃÂ today the launch of an accelerated examination program for green technology patent applications which would grant patents in “about an hour.”ÃÂ
Apparently, the astonishing turnaround time is possible because of the chronically underutilized staff of the LPO.ÃÂ Since its modern inception in 1992, the LPO has employed just one part-time patent examiner who worksÃÂ 2-3 days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and alternate Fridays from 9:30 AM to 3:30 PM withÃÂ anÃÂ hour and a halfÃÂ for lunchÃÂ andÃÂ six 15-minute cigarette breaks).
The LPO has extremely light application volume in part because the current European patent system enables applicants to file in the European Patent Office, where substantive examination takes place, and simply validate any resulting patent in individual country patent offices like the LPO.
Applicants participating in the new fast track program will receive a first office action within 15 minutes of filing.ÃÂ If the applicant isÃÂ able to prepare and file a response by the half-hour mark,ÃÂ the LPO guarantees aÃÂ final dispositionÃÂ (either final office action or patent grant) within an hour of the filing time.
One down side for participating applicants is thatÃÂ any continuations or divisional applications would have to be filed within 59 minutes and 59 secondsÃÂ of theÃÂ filing time of the parent application.
JÃÂzeps PliekÃ Â¡ÃÂnsÃÂ Heinrihs Klapje de KolongsÃÂ Aleksandrs fon FreitÃÂgs-Loringhofens, the LPO’s Director of Policy, is confident the office can deliver results in the promised time period:
If the glasses store can make glasses in about an hour, the Patent Office of the Republic of Latvia canÃÂ grant a patent in the same time.ÃÂ Glasses areÃÂ complex plastic, metal or wire frames containing delicate discs of prescription glass.ÃÂ Patents are just small stacks of paper.
LatviaÃÂ joins a number of other countries that have instituted accelerated examination programs for green technology patent applications, such as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan and Korea, but is by far the smallest market countryÃÂ to do so.
Some of the other green patent fast track programs such as those implementedÃÂ by theÃÂ Korean Intellectual Property OfficeÃÂ and Brazil’s Institute of Industrial Property have received some heat forÃÂ rules thatÃÂ smack of protectionismÃÂ such asÃÂ requiring the applicant to have received funding or certificationÃÂ from the government (Korea), have a local corporate entity and office (Korea), or limiting eligibility to national applications (Brazil).
Clearly aware of these criticisms, the LPO fast track does accept national stage applications and has only minimal local requirements.ÃÂ Rather thanÃÂ make the applicant establish a local office, for example, the fast track rules simply require that the applicant build a local bird houseÃÂ in theÃÂ countryÃÂ suitable to support a family of White Wagtails, the national bird of Latvia.ÃÂ
According to Dr. Klapje de KolongsÃÂ Aleksandrs fon FreitÃÂgs-Loringhofens:
Applicants will be veryÃÂ delighted at the beautiful plumage of the White Wagtail and have the option to build the bird house in the capital, Riga, and the surrounding area or in the countryside, for example, inÃÂ theÃÂ Courland, Latgale, Vidzeme, or Zemgale regions.
The LPO’s fast track rulemakingÃÂ committeeÃÂ settled on the bird house provision after failing to reach a consensusÃÂ on aÃÂ requirement for the applicant to take “substantial steps to support” the population of Latvia’s national insect, the two-spot ladybird.
While there is no additional fee for the green patent fast track program,ÃÂ the LPOÃÂ suggests a mandatory donation for each participating patent application of at least 5 kilograms of amber, a fossilized tree resinÃÂ whichÃÂ is one of Latvia’s most important cultural symbols.