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Intellectual Property Insights from Fishman Stewart PLLC
Newsletter – Volume 24, Issue 8

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Climate Change and the Patenting Process Doing Its Part

By Paul M. Ratzmann

Climate change has increasingly dominated daily news cycles, signaling a growing urgency for action. The escalation of temperatures during the hottest months serves as a stark reminder of the immediate need for solutions.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is addressing this urgency with the Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program. This program stands as a beacon, providing an expedited patenting process for innovative technologies that play a role in mitigating climate change. It encompasses technologies geared towards greenhouse gas removal, emission prevention, emission monitoring, promotion of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency enhancements, and sustainable advancements in transportation, water conservation, and waste management.

Launched in 2022, the USPTO expanded the program in 2023 to run until either June 7, 2027, or upon reaching a total of 4,000 grantable petitions for expedited review, whichever occurs first. This extension to the program demonstrates the USPTO’s ongoing commitment to supporting inventors and researchers working on climate change solutions.

Under this expanded program, green tech applications receive special status, accelerating their review process without having to meet usual requirements for expedited review.

This initiative not only expedites the transformation of ideas into tangible solutions but also fosters collaboration among stakeholders to address pressing environmental challenges. The increased allowance for applications  receiving expedited review amplifies the program’s efficacy in facilitating the transition of innovative climate-related technologies from conceptualization to market-ready deployment.

The intersection of patents and climate change is a critical nexus in the pursuit of sustainable solutions on a global scale. As highlighted in “The Patent Lawyer Magazine” dated February 15, 2024, climate change is indeed a global issue that demands rapid action. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 underscores the urgency of addressing climate change.

Initiatives like the USPTO’s Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program play a crucial role in incentivizing and accelerating innovations that contribute to mitigating climate change. Globally, initiatives such as WIPO’s Green Inventory and WIPO GREEN demonstrate similar collaborative efforts to connect inventors, facilitate knowledge exchange, and accelerate the development and adoption of green technologies. Fast-track patent approval programs in various countries further underscore the international recognition of the importance of green innovations.

Global trends in green technology patenting indicate a strong push towards sustainable solutions. India issued over 60,000 patents for green technologies in recent years. The substantial increase in patent grants, design registrations, and brand registrations in India reflects a growing commitment to fostering innovation through intellectual property protection. It is clear that patents not only provide legal protection but also serve as catalysts for investment, innovation, and confidence-building in the realm of green technologies.

The convergence of patents and climate change presents a pivotal opportunity to drive sustainable solutions on a global scale. The continued advancement of initiatives like the USPTO’s Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program, coupled with global policy support for green patents and investments in green technologies, will play a significant role in shaping a more sustainable and resilient future for generations to come.

Paul Ratzmann is a partner at Fishman Stewart and a registered patent attorney, practicing in many technology fields. As an engineer, before he became a patent attorney, Paul was an inventor and is listed on eleven US patents, such as the one listed here.

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