US Patent & Trademark Office Expands Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program

The Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program offers an opportunity for companies in the climate space to cheaply expedite the examination of US patent applications.

The grant of a US patent provides a strong signal to investors and competitors about the strength of your IP position. A granted US patent can also often lead directly to the issuance of patents in other countries, particularly those who are members of the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program, or those who do not perform their own examination.

The Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program allows patent applications for technologies designed to reduce greenhouse gases to receive an expedited first action on the merits (in some cases only 2-3 months from filing the application), without an additional fee, and without having to meet the requirements and costs of traditional prioritized examination, such as Track One Prioritized Examination (“Track One”).

When considering whether it is best to utilize this program or Track One, the two most important factors to consider are time to grant and cost. This pilot program provides for expedited issuance of the first action on the merits—a substantial time savings. Track One status, on the other hand, provides for allowance or final rejection within an average of one year from the time the request is granted. Therefore, if obtaining granted claims in the US as quickly as possible is your goal, Track One may be a better option to consider. However, Track One examination is costly at $4200 for the request alone ($1680 for a small entity). So, if cost is also a concern, the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot, which still provides a substantial acceleration, is free to request and may be a better option.

The program previously covered technologies that mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) extended the program until 2027, and expanded it to encompass technologies designed to:

(a) remove greenhouse gases already present in the atmosphere;

(b) reduce and/or prevent additional greenhouse gas emissions; and/or

(c) monitor, track, and/or verify greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Specifically, the USPTO has clarified that eligible claim(s) correspond(s) to one or more of the technical concepts within subclass Y02A, Y02B, Y02C, Y02D, Y02E, Y02P, Y02T or Y02W in the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system. Applicants must also certify that they have a good faith belief that expediting patent examination of the application will likely have a positive impact on the climate. There are additional formal requirements, which target the program to newer technologies.

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