By: Aaron B. ThalwitzerIt’s never been easy being green, and it still isn’t, but it did just get a little bit faster. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently issued a Notice that it gives (free!) accelerated prosecution to ‘green patents’. The usual costs still apply, but using the Green Channel scheme means that your application could get granted in as little as nine months.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is also jumping on board the green bandwagon, and recently issued a Notice requesting comments on its plan to extend and expand the Green Technology Pilot Program, which provides accelerated examination for patent applications relating to green technologies. See our previous article on accelerated examination of “green” patents here.
According to the Notice, the USPTO plans to extend the program to December 31, 2011; it had been scheduled to end December 8, 2010.
In addition, in a welcome eligibility change, the USPTO plans to expand the program to include green patent applications filed on or after the December 8, 2009 program launch date; previously, only applications filed before that date had been eligible.
What is ‘green’ is ultimately a judgment call, so you’ll need to demonstrate that your application relates to a ‘green’ or environmentally-friendly technology. A statement explaining how your invention is environmentally friendly may be sufficient, however, if it is not clear how your invention gives an environmental benefit, a more detailed explanation may be necessary.
A detailed investigation into assertions that a technology is “green” will not be conducted. Inventions that are clearly unfounded, such as a perpetual motion machine, for example, will be refused.
Since launching the “green” scheme, WIPO has been lobbying other countries to implement similar schemes. The US, Australia and South Korea have launched similar schemes, whilst China, Japan and Brazil have expressed interest.
Patents already filed under this scheme have included water reclamation, treatment and saving devices, electric generators, battery powered vehicles and climate control devices. The IPO could care less the area of technology when considering whether to allow a request for acceleration under the Green Channel. It just has to be ‘green’.
WIPO created a database that enables a search for published applications and granted patents, which have been accelerated under the Green Channel. However, there are no plans to publish a separate list of all environmentally friendly patents. The database contains details of Green Channel Patent Applications which have been published. Here is a link to the database.