Compliance » The USPTO’s Climate Pilot Fast-Tracks The Patent Process, Presents Opportunities

The USPTO’s Climate Pilot Fast-Tracks The Patent Process, Presents Opportunities

By Brian A.R. Raddatz

April 17, 2024

climate pilot fast tracks patent process concept

Brian A.R. Raddatz is a patent attorney at the Chicago-based intellectual property boutique Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP. He combines his passion for nuclear technology and engineering background to guide clients during the patent application.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)’s innovative Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program makes 2024 the prime time for those creating climate-friendly innovations to accelerate the patent examination process.

Intellectual property drives technological advancements, and the USPTO expanded the program on June 6, 2023 to include more technologies. That expanded scope makes progress on a goal of net-zero greenhouse emissions. It incentivizes inventors and companies to create and continue working on climate-friendly innovations, allowing them to expedite the patent examination process for inventions that contribute to mitigating climate change.

The program meets the pressing need for innovative solutions to combat climate change by expediting what can be a long process. It seeks to empower innovators to bring their protected ideas to market more quickly, contributing to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable future. This program will only be available until June 2027 or until 4,000 petitions have been granted. As of February 27, 2024, 583 petitions have already been granted.

Companies working in the clean tech space should consider whether the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program is an option for their intellectual property plans.

Both in-house and outside patent counsel are crucial in navigating the patent prosecution process before the USPTO. Patent counsel can help companies understand the requirements and benefits of participating in special programs offered by the USPTO, helping them maximize the value of their innovations while protecting their intellectual property rights.

Why is this program worth considering?

First, participation in the program indicates that a company’s patent portfolio aims to help solve the world’s pressing climate change needs. Engaging in efforts to mitigate climate change by developing innovative technologies and practices can enhance brand reputation and appeal to environmentally conscious consumers and investors.

Second, expedited patent examination accelerates the development and deployment of climate-friendly innovations, allowing participants to gain a competitive edge in the market while contributing to global efforts to address climate change. The expedited patent examination will also often increase the overall total cost of the patent prosecution process in the long term, though companies should be aware that expedited examination also accelerates costs in the short term. These accelerated costs should be accounted for before submitting the petition required to participate in the program.

The program is available for technologies that (a) remove greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere, (b) reduce or prevent additional greenhouse gas emissions, or (c) monitor greenhouse gas emission reductions.

To participate in the program, innovators must timely file a Petition for Climate Change Mitigation Pilot. If granted by the USPTO, the USPTO will advance the examination of the application to expedite a first-office action. In some examples, an application given “special” status can reduce prosecution time by more than one year.

The technologies and industries that can benefit from this program include, but are not limited to:

  1. Renewable Energy: Solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and other renewable energy technologies may benefit. Expediting the process may accelerate energy production and storage innovations, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
  2. Green Transportation: Electric vehicles, hybrid technologies, more efficient engines, and alternative fuel sources are crucial in reducing emissions from the transportation sector. Methods and systems that more efficiently utilize conventional technology, such as autonomous driving, reduce the production of harmful gases.
  3. Carbon Capture and Storage: Innovations in capturing and storing carbon emissions from industrial processes or the atmosphere could significantly impact climate change mitigation efforts.
  4. Energy-Efficient Technologies: Companies producing appliances, electronics, and building materials designed for energy efficiency might seek to expedite the patent examination process to protect their innovations, contributing to reducing overall energy consumption.
  5. Sustainable Agriculture: Technologies aimed at sustainable farming, water conservation, crop resilience to climate change, or reducing the environmental impact of agricultural practices may benefit.
  6. Waste Management and Recycling: Innovations in waste reduction, recycling technologies, and circular economy solutions to minimize environmental impact may qualify for the expedited patent process.
  7. Climate Adaptation Technologies: Innovations related to adapting infrastructure, cities, and systems to withstand the impacts of climate change (like extreme weather events and rising sea levels) may be eligible.
  8. Environmental Monitoring and Analytics: Innovations related to advanced sensors, monitoring devices, or analytics tools for tracking environmental changes, pollution levels, or biodiversity conservation might benefit.
  9. Green Building and Construction: Innovations in sustainable building materials, materials produced in less energy-intensive systems, energy-efficient construction methods, and designs focused on reducing environmental footprints in the construction industry.
  10. Water and Air Purification Technologies: Technologies to purify water sources, treat wastewater, or improve air quality through innovative filtration or purification methods could utilize the expedited patent process.

If your company is innovating in the Clean Tech and Sustainability technology spaces, now is the time to evaluate whether the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program can help you protect your innovations.

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