In the December 8, 2009 Federal Register, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced a new Pilot Program for Green Technologies. Under this pilot program, a number of “green” energy and carbon emission reduction technologies are eligible to receive accelerated examination. In accordance with the accelerated examination procedures, a patent application is examined ahead of regular, i.e., non-special, applications. Many different technologies are eligible for this program as long as they fall within at least one of the following categories: applications pertaining to energy conservation, development of renewable resources or greenhouse gas emission reduction. In order to be considered for the accelerated examination pilot program, a petition must be filed. However, unlike normal accelerated examination, a pre-examination search and an Examination Support Document (ESD) are not required to participate in the program. Thus, the petition for accelerated examination under the pilot program can be prepared at much lower cost than a regular accelerated examination petition. Any application is eligible for the green technology pilot program as long as the already filed application is classified in one of the listed search classes and has not received a first action.
The green technology pilot program is only available for the first 3,000 applications to have a proper petition filed, though the USPTO has indicated the program may be further expanded. For further information see the notice in the Federal Register.