The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is extending by one year its program that expedites review of applications for inventions intended to improve the environment and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The program, which was scheduled to expire Dec. 8, has granted 790 petitions for the faster review and issued 79 patents since the initiative began a year ago, the Alexandria, Virginia-based agency said in a statement today. The average time before the first action on a “green technology” application is 49 days, the patent office said. That compares with the typical two-year wait.
“We’ve seen great results so far for those applications in the Green Tech program,” Director David Kappos said. “By doing so, we hope to help bring more green inventions to market, stimulate investment in green technology and create jobs.”
The extension to Dec. 31, 2011, will give the agency more time to meet its goal of 3,000 applications. The office modified the program in May, after issuing nine patents, to ensure more approvals. The Obama administration is pushing for more innovation related to renewable energy or lowering emissions, saying the U.S. needs to promote investment in green technologies to compete with nations including China and India.
Stion Corp., a San Jose, California-based maker of thin- cell solar panels, had been waiting for more than three years for patents. It now expects several to issue by the end of the year, said the company’s patent lawyer, Richard Ogawa.
The closely held company, which is backed by Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder Vinod Khosla’s venture-capital fund Khosla Ventures, has received a $50 million investment from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and is trying to increase production, Ogawa said.
“Sales people are trying to sell and we’re terrified our competitors will clone us,” he said. “To have patents to show we have something special is important.”
Ogawa, who handles patent applications for four additional companies backed by Khosla, said his other clients have been able to get quicker reviews and have said they will seek more patents under the program.
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