Patent applicants in the energy industry are likely aware that it can take years for energy industry patent applications to issue as granted patents. A temporary USPTO program provides for significantly expedited handling of green technologies patent applications if applicants file an appropriate petition and meet some additional requirements.
The green technologies expedited examination program has twice been expanded since its December 8, 2009 launch. On November 10, 2010, a Federal Register notice (Vol. 75, No. 217) (Docket No. PTO-P-2010-0083) made clear that the USPTO will now accept petitions under the program “irrespective of the filing date of the application.” Previously, only applications filed prior to December 8, 2009 were eligible for participation in the program. This expansion will allow patent applicants in the energy industry to strategically file new or continuing applications and could be a jump start for sluggish energy industry patent portfolios.
Although the expansion of the green technologies expedited examination program will allow applicants to strategically request expedited examination, a 3,000-application limit of the program has not been expanded. As nearly 1,000 petitions under the program have now been accepted, energy industry applicants should file petitions for inclusion into the program as soon as possible. The program is scheduled to end on December 31, 2011 if the 3,000-application limit is not met.
Patent applicants interested in the green technologies expedited examination program should discuss the requirements, timing considerations, positives, negatives, and overall strategy with their patent attorneys. Further information that summarizes the program, its recent expansion, and some strategic considerations in detail is available at http://bit.ly/USPTOGreenPilotUpdate.