A guest blog by Olivia Buckingham, Technical Assistant at Reddie & Grose LLP.
The UK government’s recent ‘Powering up Britain’ policy paper, outlining their plan to deliver a Net Zero economy by 2050, reminds us all of the importance of championing advances in climate change mitigation technology. It, therefore, feels appropriate to present how intellectual property offices around the world encourage green innovation.
WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organisation) has demonstrated its support for addressing climate change by launching ‘WIPO GREEN’ in 2013. WIPO Green is an online platform for technology exchange that supports global efforts to address climate change and represents an important commitment to promoting green innovation.
The EPO (European Patent Office), among other initiatives, has introduced a new patent classification scheme which allows climate change mitigation technologies to be tagged and affords valuable insights into the growth of different green technology areas.
Perhaps of more direct interest for patent applicants, however, is a range of similar initiatives implemented by intellectual property offices around the world, which speed up the patenting process for those seeking protection for green inventions.
UK Green Channel
The UKIPO’s (UK Intellectual Property Office) ‘Green Channel’ for accelerated processing of patent applications is now well established, having been launched the best part of 15 years ago. Using this service, applicants can request accelerated search, examination, combined search and examination, and/or publication. As a result, a patent application filed under the green channel could be granted in as little as 9 months. To qualify for the green channel, applicants will have to justify how their invention is ‘environmentally friendly’. The bar is not particularly high, though, with applicants only having to make a ‘reasonable assertion’ of ‘environmental benefit’.
US Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program
In a similar vein, the USPTO’s (US Patent and Trademark Office) ‘Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program’ was launched in 2022, offering special status to ‘applications involving technologies that mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions’. The program is open until the earliest of 5th June 2023 or the date at which 1000 applications have been granted said special status.
The JPO enables accelerated examination and accelerated appeal examination for applications/appeals that fall under one of a list of categories. One such category is ‘green-related applications’ covering ‘green inventions’, which are defined as inventions ‘having an energy saving effect and contributing to CO2 reduction’.
A number of other patent offices around the world afford similar accelerated processing to ‘green’ applications. For example, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and IP Australia.
In a system that suffers from patent office backlogs, such that obtaining a granted patent can take several years, accelerated processing offered by patent offices around the world is an important advantage for applicants seeking a quick grant. It is worth remembering, however, that a quick grant is not always in the interest of the applicant. Therefore, we strongly advise seeking tailored advice from an intellectual property law firm to assist you in navigating the system.