Only two months remain to take advantage of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's pilot program for fast-tracking examination of certain pending clean energy technology patent applications. The program is scheduled to end on December 8, 2010.
The fast-track program allowed biofuels start-up Joule Unlimited to obtain U.S. Patent No. 7,794,969 (claiming methods for using genetically-engineered algae to generate biodiesel from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water) in just 5 months. By contrast, patent applications that are not part of the fast-track program can take as long as 40 months to issue as patents.
To be eligible for the program, an application must:
Eligible clean energy technologies include inventions that materially enhance the quality of the environment, or that materially contribute to:
More details on the fast-track program and other IP strategies for clean energy innovators are available at the Patent Office's website and in the Managing IP article Plan Your Clean Energy IP Strategy.