On June 6, 2023, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will officially extend and expand its underutilized Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program. In an effort to advance technologies addressing the effects of climate change, the USPTO will allow patent applicants to petition to have their applications examined earlier without paying additional fees. The Pilot Program may be of particular interest to innovators in fields such as electric vehicles, energy storage, wastewater treatment, carbon capture, agriculture, and a wide variety of other green technologies.
The Pilot Program was originally introduced in 2022 to accelerate examination of patent applications that meet certain criteria and was set to expire in June 2023. It has now been extended through June 7, 2027, or until 4,000 grantable petitions are filed. Through the end of May 2023, the USPTO had granted special status to 244 of the only 354 applications that had petitioned under this program (a grant rate of 68.9%).
Under the extended Pilot Program, applicants must still certify that “the claimed invention covers a product or process that mitigates climate change, and that they have a good faith belief that expediting patent examination of the application will likely have a positive impact on the climate.” The scope of the program is now being expanded. Initially, only inventions for products or processes designed to reduce greenhouse emissions were eligible. The expanded program will be available to patent applications directed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, including inventions in any economic sector that remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere; reduce or prevent greenhouse gas emissions; or monitor, track, or verify greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Those patent applications that are granted special status through the program receive earlier examination, thereby potentially reducing the time between filing the application and being granted an enforceable patent, in theory extending the active patent term. This may be particularly valuable to a qualified applicant, because the USPTO currently has a backlog of over 700,000 unexamined applications, and on average an applicant waits over 16 months between filing the application and receiving a first communication from a patent examiner. There is no fee for filing a petition to be considered for the program.
Applicants who believe they are eligible to participate in the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program should reach out to their patent attorney to discuss this extended and expanded program.
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