In our January 22, 2010 issue, we reported on the USPTO’s new Green Technology Pilot Program, which allows an applicant to petition for his or her application to be examined more quickly if the application pertains to the development of a renewable energy source or energy conservation, or the reduction of green house gas emissions. On November 10, 2010, the USPTO announced that the program is being extended through December 31, 2011. Further, the requirement that an application have a filing date earlier than December 8, 2009, has been removed. The application can now have any filing date, and in fact, a petition can be filed simultaneously with a new patent application. Since the pilot program began in December 2009, a total of 790 petitions have been granted and already 94 patents have been issued. The average time between the approval of a petition and the first action on the merits is a mere 49 days! There is no fee required for participating in the program, but the USPTO is maintaining a cap of 3000 grantable petitions. Applicants should review their portfolios and determine if any applications awaiting a first Office Action, or any future filings, are ripe for this expedited process.
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