U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Geothermal Technologies Office

Commerce Department to Speed Review of Green Technology Patents

December 9, 2009

The U.S. Commerce Department announced on December 7 that its U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will pilot a year-long program to accelerate the examination of certain "green" technology patent applications by as much as one year. The new initiative is designed to speed the development and deployment of green technology, create green jobs, and promote U.S. competitiveness. In particular, the program focuses on patents for renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, plus other environmental technologies. The program rules spell out 29 categories of renewable energy technologies and 23 categories of energy efficiency technologies that are eligible. Pending patent applications in these technologies will be eligible for special status and given expedited review. Earlier patenting of these technologies enables inventors to secure funding, create businesses, and bring vital green technologies into use much sooner.

Patent applications are normally taken up for examination in the order that they are filed. It typically takes the USPTO two and a half years to start taking action on a patent application, and it takes another 10 months to reach a final decision on the patent. Under the pilot program, the office will examine patent applications on an accelerated basis for the first 3,000 applications related to green technologies for which a petition is filed. Petitions are currently being accepted, and the program will accept petitions through December 8, 2010. If the trial is successful, the USPTO will consider ways to expand the initiative. See the Commerce Department press release; the USPTO Web site; the full details on the pilot program as published in the Federal Register (PDF 452 KB); and the petition form for the pilot program (PDF 158 KB). Download Adobe Reader.