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Accelerated USPTO examination for "green" patent applications

Accelerated examination is now available for at least 3,000 U.S. patent applications claiming “green technology” under a pilot program announced on 7 December 2009.

In this context, “green technology” means technology relating to alternative energy production, energy conservation, environmentally friendly farming and environmental purification, protection, or remediation as further defined by the U.S. PTO. No official fee is required.

The application must have been filed prior to 8 December 2009 as a U.S. nonprovisional application, as a U.S. national phase of a PCT application, or as an international PCT application designating the U.S. The international PCT application must have entered the U.S. national phase at the time the petition is filed. Continuation and divisional applications filed prior to 8 December 2009 are eligible. Reissue applications and reexaminations are not eligible.

A petition for acceleration must be filed for the eligible application at least one day prior to the date of a first Office Action. The first Office Action may be a report on examination on the merits or merely a lack of unity of invention objection (referred to as a “restriction requirement”). A first Office Action in the parent of a continuation or divisional application does not count against the later filed continuation or divisional application. A first Office Action issued prior to a request for continued examination (RCE) still spoils eligibility after the RCE. The question of eligibility under this program cannot be reopened by filing a contination or divisional application.

Unless extended, this program is set to expire when the maximum number of petitions has been accepted or at midnight on 7 December 2010. To be included among the maximum number of patent applications, a timely petition must be submitted for a U.S. patent application complying with a number of formal requirements at the time of filing the petition. To avoid unnecessary delay, it is adviseable to check whether the application complies with all formal requirements before filing the petition. We are prepared to rapidly assist those not yet represented by U.S. counsel.