The USPTO now fast tracks applications involving greenhouse gas reduction technologies. The new Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program targets impact on the climate by accelerating examination of patent applications for innovations that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Qualifying applications may be advanced out of turn for examination (granted special status) until a first action on the merits—typically the first substantive examination—is complete. Advantageously, qualifying applications do not incur the petition to make special fee and is not required to satisfy the other requirements of the accelerated examination program. 

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) accept petitions to make special under this program until June 5, 2023, or the date when 1,000 applications have been granted special status under this program, whichever occurs earlier. “This program aligns with and supports Executive Order 14008, dated January 27, 2021, and supports the USPTO’s efforts to secure an equitable economic future, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate the effects of climate change.” The new program takes steps toward working to incentivize and expedite clean energy technologies that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. 

To qualify for the Program:

  • Patent Applications must contain one or more claims to a product or process that mitigates climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and be: (a) a non-continuing original utility non-provisional application; and (b) an original utility non-provisional application that claims the benefit of the filing date under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121, 365(c), or 386(c) of only one prior application that is either a non-provisional application or an international application designating the United States. Note: Claiming the benefit under 35 U.S.C. 119(e) of one or more prior provisional applications or claiming a right of foreign priority under 35 U.S.C. 119(a)-(d) or (f) to one or more foreign applications will not affect eligibility for this pilot program.
  • The application or national stage entry and the requisite petition form must be electronically filed by use of the Patent Center of the USPTO, and the specification, claims, and abstract must be submitted in DOCX format. 
  • Applicants must file the petition to make special with the application or entry into the national stage under 35 U.S.C. 371 or within 30 days of the filing date or entry date of the application. The fee for the petition to make special under 37 CFR 1.102(d) has been waived for this program.
  • Applicants must use Form PTO/SB/457—which contains the petition and requisite certifications—to request participation in this program. 
  • Petition filing limitations: Applicants may not file a petition to participate in this pilot program if the inventor or any joint inventor has been named as the inventor or a joint inventor on more than four other non-provisional applications in which a petition to make special under this program has been filed.

In a recent blog post announcing the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program, USPTO Director Kathi Vidal said, “It’s essential to protect these transformative energy innovations with intellectual property (IP). Innovation is a primary driver of the U.S. economy, and IP is the bridge between an idea and bringing that innovation to market. Industries based on innovation and the protection of intellectual property generate almost $8 trillion ($7.8 trillion) in GDP, and account for 44% of all U.S. jobs. Workers in patent-intensive industries earn almost $1,900 per week. That is 97% higher than the average weekly wage of workers in non-IP intensive industries.” 

Vidal also said, “Startup companies that have a patent are far more likely to be successful in raising funding than those that have not secured intellectual property protection. When used as collateral, a patent increases venture capital funding by 76% over three years, and increases funding from an initial public offering by 128%, the approval of a startup’s first patent application increases its employee growth by 36% over the next five years, and after five years, a new company with a patent increase its sales by a cumulative 80% more than companies that do not have a patent.” 

Moving forward to protect essential green energy transition technology can be helpful for future corporate and strategic goals. This new Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program opens the door to accelerating potential patent protection for many of these developing technological fields.