The story reports that Calera, a California company working to provide "green cement" for use in building construction, has fast-tracked twelve patent applications through the Green Technology Pilot Program.
The story was presumably intended to provide a concrete (get it?) example of the successes available using the USPTO's Green Technology Pilot Program, but updated Pilot Program statistics continue to indicate less than heavy utilization by applicants. The USPTO reports that 1,918 petitions under the Green Technology Pilot Program have been granted to date. This pace indicates that the program will not likely reach its maximum of 3,000 granted petitions prior to the Pilot Program's planned expiration date on December 31, 2011. 328 patents have been issued under the Pilot Program.
With the Calera story, the USPTO seems to be advertising the advantages available under the Pilot Program. The USPTO indicates that the average time between granting a Green Tech. petition and the first office action on the merits is just 39 days and that, in "many instances, applicants have had their Green Technology inventions patented in less than one year."
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the USPTO's posting, from a potential Pilot Program participant's perspective, is a quote from Calera: "Our participating applications were ... examined by responsive, cooperative examiners who were willing to work with us to define patentable subject matter in an expedited manner." One might infer that the USPTO's decision to include such a quote indicates the USPTO's intent to make a concerted effort to provide similar treatment to other Pilot Program participants.
As posted earlier today, a measure in the House's patent reform legislation would authorize the USPTO to grant priority examinations to technologies that are critical to the U.S. economy. If such a measure becomes law, we might be seeing the USPTO implement more programs modeled after the Green Tech. Pilot Program.