Report Analyses Fast-Track Green Patent Applications

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A new study explores the system in place in seven industrialised and two developing countries to fast track the application of “green” patents, with mixed results. It found that the fast-tracking system works, and effectively reduces the time of examination and granting of patents, but underscored that the mechanism remains underutilised and is mostly used by small companies in the environmental technology sector. [modified]

The study aims at filling what it describes as a research gap by providing a pragmatic examination of the effects of this fast-tracking system so as to understand how the fast-track procedure can help the diffusion of green technologies.

The new report, titled “Fast-Tracking Green Patent Applications, an empirical analysis” was conducted by Antoine Dechezleprêtre from the London School of Economics and Political Science for the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD).

The report presents mixed results. It found that the fast-tracking system works but remains underused.

The analysis explains that the fast-tracking system reduces the examination process significantly “from several years to just a few months.” For instance, in the United Kingdom, the fast-tracking procedure represents a 75 percent reduction in the time to grant patent period.

Beyond these gains in time, the report creates a sense of urgency toward addressing environmental challenges and presents the fast-track procedure as an encouraging solution to the environmental issue. “Fast-tracking programmes have accelerated the diffusion of knowledge in green technologies in the short run (in the first year after the publication of the patents),” it says.

However, the report underlines the low participation from patent applicants. For the period 2009-2012, the highest rate of green patents that went through the fast-tracking procedure was in the US with 3,533 cases, while the lowest rate was in Australia with 43 applications.

The author acknowledges that further work is needed to fully understand the impact that the fast-tracking procedure will have in the long run for the diffusion of knowledge.

There is a “need for more information about the licensing practice of companies using fast-tracking programmes to understand the extent to which these programs accelerate the diffusion of green-patented technologies through licensing in particular in developing countries,” the author says.

The report also highlights that for the longer run, it has not been able to “assess to what extent fast-tracking programmes have accelerated the diffusion of green patented technologies, in particular through licensing.”

Tiphaine Nunzia Caulier recently graduated with a Master in International Law from the Graduate Institute in Geneva and UCLA School of Law. Through her work experience and academic interests she has specialised in international trade, intellectual property, and public health.


Tiphaine Nunzia Caulier may be reached at

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