The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will try to speed up the examination of certain "green" technology patent applications by as much as one year.
In particular, the program focuses on patents for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, plus other environmental technologies. The program rules spell out 29 categories of renewable energy technologies and 23 categories of energy efficiency technologies that are eligible. Pending patent applications in these technologies will be eligible for special status and given expedited review.
Patent applications are normally taken up for examination in the order that they are filed. It typically takes the USPTO two and a half years to start taking action on a patent application, and it takes another 10 months to reach a final decision on the patent. Under the pilot program, the office will examine patent applications on an accelerated basis for the first 3,000 applications related to green technologies for which a petition is filed. Petitions are currently being accepted, and the program will accept petitions through December 8, 2010. If the trial is successful, the USPTO will consider ways to expand the initiative.
The Commerce Dept. put out a press release on this development:
Details are also in the Federal Register: