USPTO Launches Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program | Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP

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[co-authors: Erica Spence, Alejandro Echeverria]

Throughout history, innovation and human intellect have been the primary factors in solving mankind’s problems. Today, climate change has become a major threat and can no longer be ignored. On June 3, 2022, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) introduced the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program, its latest initiative to advance technical areas of special interest. The program is committed to granting expedited review of patent applications related to clean and green energy technologies to address the climate change crisis.

For a limited time, the USPTO will accept up to 1,000 eligible patent applications for the program. Similar to existing expedited examination programs, the program will expedite the examination of certain patent applications. This time, however, it is about innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under this expedited examination, a patent application that would normally take two and a half years to prosecute can be pursued to final action (eg, acceptance) within twelve months.

As indicated in the Federal Register NoticeHere are the main requirements to participate:

  • Applications must contain one or more patent claims relating to a product or process that mitigates climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Requests must be non-provisional requests of non-continuing original utility.
  • Applicants must file the Petition to Make Special (Form PTO/SB/457) with the application or entry into the national phase under 35 U.S.C. 371 or within 30 days of the filing date or the date of entry of the application (the fee for the application to make special under CFR 1.102(d) has been revoked).
  • Applicants may not file a request to participate in this program if the inventor or any co-inventor has been named as an inventor or co-inventor in more than four (4) other non-provisional applications in which a request to make a special under this program has been filed.
  • Applications accompanied by requests for non-publication will be eligible under this program.

With respect to the prosecution of patent applications filed under this program, the Federal Register notice states:

  • Applications involving technologies that mitigate climate change will be advanced out of turn (special status granted) to first action on the merits by a patent examiner, if the applications meet all program requirements.
  • Nominations are limited to three (3) independent claims; twenty (20) claims in total; and no multiple dependent claims. Any modification that would cause the claim to exceed the claim limits will be excluded from participation in the program.
  • If a response to a non-final administrative action is not fully compliant because it fails to meet the claim requirements described above but is a good faith attempt to advance the claim to final action, the Patent Examiner may provide a shortened two (2) month response time.

This program is expected to accelerate hundreds of patent applications for technologies that address climate change. By facilitating the accelerated pursuit of these patentable innovations, the USPTO aims to stimulate efforts to promote technologies that will help solve problems related to climate change. Patent applicants and inventors are well advised to work with their trusted patent advisor to determine if pending filings or new inventions might be appropriately filed under this new program.

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