USPTO Will Speed Reviews Of Green Tech Patents

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The United States Patent and Trademark Office today announced a pilot programme to accelerate examination of some environmental technology patent applications to speed commercialisation. The US-oriented initiative was announced by US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who oversees the patent office, as an entry to the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen. The Obama administration has been a strong advocate of the position that patenting of new green technologies will encourage more innovation in this area and create US jobs in the process. “American competitiveness depends on innovation and innovation depends on creative Americans developing new technology,” Locke said. He was echoed in the official government press release by Carl Horton of the General Electric Company, a frequently heard advocate of the same position.

According to the release: “Pending patent applications in green technologies will be eligible to be accorded special status and given expedited examination, which will have the effect of reducing the time it takes to patent these technologies by an average of one year. Earlier patenting of these technologies enables inventors to secure funding, create businesses, and bring vital green technologies into use much sooner.”

It continued: “Patent applications are normally taken up for examination in the order that they are filed. The average pendency time for applications in green technology areas is approximately 30 months to a first office action and 40 months to a final decision. Under the pilot program, for the first 3,000 applications related to green technologies in which a proper petition is filed, the agency will examine the applications on an accelerated basis.”

Meanwhile, it remains unclear how poorer countries will benefit from patented technologies in the North, a topic of debate in the UN climate talks.

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