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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) has announced a pilot program to grant special status to patent applications directed to green technologies for the reduction of greenhouse gas. The program is available to applicants with currently pending patent applications pertaining to environmental quality, energy conservation, development of renewable energy resources or greenhouse gas emission reduction.
Significantly, the PTO will accept petitions under this pilot program without requiring applicants to comply with the rigorous procedural hurdles normally associated with petitions to make special on the basis of the underlying technology including, among other things, an extensive (and expensive) review and analysis of the relevant prior art which must be presented to the PTO in an examination support document. As a further incentive, the PTO has waived the petition fee for qualifying applicants.
Under this pilot program, which became effective December 8, 2009 and is scheduled to run for one year, the PTO will accept the first 3,000 petitions for currently pending patent applications meeting the criteria for “green technologies”.