USPTO Programs and Options: A Filewrapper® Series on Environmental Technology and Patent Protection-Part IIIOctober 14, 2016

In this third week of the Filewrapper® series on considerations environmental technology, we will be discussing USPTO efforts and programs designed specifically for environmental technologies.

The concept of prioritizing green technology patents is not new to the USTPO. On December 8, 2009, a USPTO pilot program was launched to accelerate review of green technology patent applications. Under this program, the USPTO advanced an application via special status for technologies related broadly to greenhouse gas reduction. In particular, technologies related to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy, and emissions reductions were considered eligible under the program. The program was modified during its existence to include applications filed before December 8, 2009 and was extended until March 30, 2012, or the date at which 3500 applications have been filed under the program. The USPTO closed the program in February 2012 and no longer accepted petitions under this program and will reach the 3500 application max based on pending applications. The very existence of this program indicates the priority of environmental technology at the USPTO, however for those seeking expedited protection for new environmental technology, there are additional options available that serve the same purpose as the pilot program.

We can imagine a situation where a new emission reduction device is developed to meet the requirements of the CAA and CWA as previously discussed.  Before modifying existing industrial plant layouts and equipment, patent protection may be beneficial. Prioritized Examination (Track I) Program or the accelerated examination program may be alternative options for those situations where seeking expedited patent protection is desired. Filewrapper® has previously discussed ways to expedite the patent process in a series entitled “Ways to Accelerate Patent Examination Before the USPTO.‚¬ These are excellent options for those who must balance the financial, regulatory, and patent protection aspects of environmental technology.

As we continue in this series of Filewrapper® posting, we will examine technology protection strategies including patents and trade secrets specific considerations.

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