US Patent Office Extends Green Technology’s Fast Track

By: Thomas Chlebeck

The USPTO announced this month that it will continue to expedite patent applications for green technologies for over a year longer than planned. The fast track program known as the Green Technology Pilot Program (GTPP) was originally scheduled to expire on December 8th, 2010. The deadline is now December 31st, 2011. As of November 15th, over 1300 new applications can still qualify.

The program allows qualifying applications – those “pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy, or greenhouse gas emission reduction” – to receive consideration far earlier than usual. Normally the USPTO considers all applications in the order in which it receives them. Under the GTPP however, “green” applications move to the front of the very long queue, saving months or even years of waiting.

While many observers agree the GTPP is based on sound policy, some – such as Gene Quinn, the president and founder of IPWatchdog Inc. – suggest it should apply not exclusively to one kind of technology, but to all the technologies society needs most urgently. Quinn mentioned innovations to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria as an example. This raises very difficult questions for USPTO policy. First, whose role is it to determine such priorities? Those with environmental concerns argue that green technologies demand the earliest consideration, while those concerned more with human health insist that medical technologies must come first. On the other hand, businesses and inventors not producing in these categories might object to such special treatment for anyone. Should any of their perspectives or interests hold more weight? Alternatively, should the USPTO or any governmental authority get to decide this crucial matter?


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1 Comment

  1. My question is, what would it take to have a patent office that didn’t have such a backlog of applications? The whole issue of expediting for certain technologies would be moot if the patent office handled applications in a more timely manner. Just curious.

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