IP NEWS

Canadian Patent Office launches Green Technology Initiative

07/06/2010

The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (“CIPO”) recently announced that they are developing a new initiative that would expedite the examination of patent applications related to green technology.

Generally, patent applications filed with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office are examined sequentially by an examiner according to the date on which an applicant requests examination. The Commissioner of Patents may expedite examination of any application out of its routine order at the request of any person if the Commissioner determines that the failure to advance the application is likely to prejudice the person’s rights. In order to be granted expedited examination, the requesting person must pay a fee, which is currently $500.

The proposed amendments would relax the requirements for expedited examination for patent applications related to green technology. Specifically, the proposed amendments would permit patent applications related to green technology to be granted accelerated examination without the payment of an additional fee. In order to be granted accelerated examination under the green technology program, an applicant would submit a declaration stating that their application relates to technology which could help to resolve or mitigate environmental impacts or conserve the natural environment and resources if commercialized.

In addition to relaxing the requirements for expedited examination for patent applications related to green technology, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office has also indicated that it will be setting new service standards to speed up the prosecution of all patent applications that benefit from expedited examination. Under current service standards, CIPO aims to examine non-expedited applications and issue a first examination report within approximately 18 to 30 months after examination of the application is requested. Under the proposed new service standards, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office would aim to produce a substantive office action for expedited applications within two months from the receipt of the applicant’s request for expedited examination.

The proposed amendments may assist green technology companies to rapidly obtain patent protection.

The announcement by CIPO was shortly followed by an announcement by the United Stated Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) regarding the expansion of a similar program available through the USPTO. The USPTO has, since December 8, 2009, had a Green Technology Pilot Program in place to expedite examination of “green” patent applications. This program permits examination of a patent application to be expedited if the patent application relates to inventions which materially enhance the quality of the environment or inventions which materially contribute to: the discovery or development of renewable energy resources, the more efficient utilization and conservation of energy resources, or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Initially, the Green Technology Pilot Program in the United States was limited to applications within a select number of U.S. classifications. The use of these classifications resulted in a large number of requests for entry into the program being rejected. Of more than 950 requests by applicants for an application to be eligible for the Green Technology Pilot Program, only 342 requests were granted.

The USPTO has now eliminated the requirement that patent applications fit within specific U.S. classifications. This amendment will make the program more accessible for green technology companies.

This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice.

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