U.S. Patent Office Announces Expedited Process to Examine New Climate Change Inventions
Last month, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) announced a “Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program” with the aim to accelerate “the examination of patent applications for innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” “encourage research, development and innovation in the climate space and provide ready and equitable intellectual property protection to incentivise investment.”
Patent applications that are accepted under the pilot program will be given special (accelerated) status for a first action on the merits.
The Office started accepting “petitions to make special” on June 3, 2022. The program will continue until June 5, 2023, or when the Office has accepted 1,000 grantable petitions, whichever occurs first.
To benefit from the program, an Applicant must satisfy these requirements:
1. Y02 Classification Patent Ready - file a non-provisional patent application that claims a product and/or process that mitigates climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. claims a technical concept within subclass Y02A, Y02B, Y02C, Y02D, Y02E, Y02P, Y02T or Y02W of the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system). The application must not contain more than three independent claims, or more than 20 total claims, and there must be no multiple dependent claims.
2. File a Petition to Make Special
3. File a Certification – that: (1) the claimed invention covers a product or process that mitigates climate change; (2) the product or process is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; (3) the Applicant has a good faith belief that expediting examination of the application will likely have a positive impact on the climate; and (4) the inventor(s) has not been named as an inventor on more than four other applications in which a petition to make special has been filed.
4. Form and Data Sheet – use USPTO Form PTO/SB/457, file electronically, and file an Application Data Sheet with the Petition.
5. No Non-Publication Request – not file a non-publication request.
The effect of special status being granted is that the application will be placed on a patent Examiner’s special docket until a first office action on the merits has been issued. After that time, the application will then be placed on the Examiner’s regular docket.
This is welcome news from the USPTO, not least given in May 2022 the USPTO reported that 683,947 U.S. patent applications are in the queue waiting a first office action by an Examiner. This new initiative will allow qualifying applications for new climate change inventions to at least initially fast track that queue.
This blog post is brought to you by Draper & Draper LLC, a law firm devoted to international arbitration, resolution of natural resources and renewable energy disputes, climate change innovation and patents.