Green Patent Pilot Program

In 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) instituted the Green Patent Pilot Program. The program encouraged the development of new, green technologies by offering an expedited process on patent approval for technologies meeting certain “green” criteria.  Beyond demonstrating a technology proven concept, eligible technologies must also demonstrate “a single invention directed to environmental quality, conserving energy, developing renewable energy resources or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.” [1] Under the typical patent application process, a typical patent filing takes over 26 months. Under the Green Patent Pilot Program, this time is reduced to approximately 49 days. [2] This is an important advantage for companies exploring green technologies to leverage, because it allows companies to bring green technologies to market more quickly.

The pilot program was intended to last until 2010 or until 3,500 applications had been placed on the expedited track, whichever occurred first. While the program has been heralded as a success, the pilot program did not cease until late 2012 due to extensions granted based on the underwhelming number of applications. [3]

The pilot program was intended to encourage more innovation from green startups by expediting intellectual property protection more for market entry. However, based on research, more large companies used the Green Patent Pilot Program than startups or small companies. For example, GE accounted for over 116 patents in the total program. [4] If the aim was truly to encourage green technology by removing barriers to entry for startups, a more viable policy could have included reducing the cost of patent filing instead of solely rushing the patenting process.



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