The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently issued a Notice requesting comments on a proposed plan to extend and expand the Green Technology Pilot Program, which provides accelerated examination for patent applications relating to green technologies.
According to the Notice, the USPTO is considering extending the program to December 31, 2011; it is currently scheduled to end December 8, 2010.
Also, in what would be a welcome eligibility change, the USPTO is considering expanding the program to include green patent applications filed on or after the December 8, 2009 program launch date; currently, only applications filed before that date are eligible.
If the eligibility change becomes effective, any green patent application that has not yet begun examination will be eligible for the fast tracking program.
The Notice states:
Participation was previously limited to applications filed before December 8, 2009. The USPTO is expanding the eligibility for the pilot program to include applications filed on or after December 8, 2009. The program is also being extended until December 31, 2011. These changes will permit more applications to qualify for the program, thereby allowing more inventions related to green technologies to be advanced out of turn for examination and reviewed earlier.
The public comment period for the Notice ends December 20, 2010.
Expansion of the program to include newly-filed green patent applications was something I called for in a previous post and could have a significant effect on participation.
With this change, the basic eligibility requirements would be as follows:
the application is any non-reissue, non-provisional utility application for which a first office action has not been issued;
the application has three or fewer independent claims, 20 or fewer total claims and no multiple dependent claims (the applicant can file a preliminary amendment to bring the application in compliance with this requirement);
the application claims a single invention directed to environmental quality, conserving energy, developing renewable energy resources or reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and
the applicant must request early publication of the application.