Last week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) formally announced its plan to extend and expand the Green Technology Pilot Program, which provides accelerated examination for patent applications relating to green technologies.
According to the Notice, the program will be extended to December 31, 2011; it was previously scheduled to end December 8, 2010.
The USPTO has also made a significant eligibility change, expanding 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 were eligible.
So, as of the November 10, 2010 effective date, any green patent application that has not yet begun examination is eligible for the fast tracking program.
The Notice states:
Initially, participation was limited to applications filed before December 8, 2009. The USPTO is hereby expanding the eligibility for the pilot program to include applications filed on or after December 8, 2009. The program is also being extended until December 31, 2011. These changes will permit more applications to qualify for the program, thereby allowing more inventions related to green technologies to be advanced out of turn for examination and reviewed earlier.
With this change, the eligibility requirements are as follows:
the application is any non-reissue, non-provisional utility application for which a first office action has not been issued;
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.
Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.