Last month, the State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of China released its Administrative Measures on Prioritized Examination of Patent Applications, which now allows for the accelerated processing of “green” patents. China is now among several other major filing destinations who award prioritized examination for various inventions related to green development, energy conservation, information technology, and other country-specific innovations that “benefit the public interest.”
In May of 2009, the UK became the first PCT country to create a system for fast-tracking patents that fall into the “green” category. In order for an applicant to enter what is called the “Green Channel”, they simply must request the accelerated examination of their patent in writing. Neither WIPO nor the UK Intellectual Property Office have established a formal definition of the terms, and thus, applications are qualified on a case-by-case basis.
China has implemented a similar fast-track process, although the rules for requesting preferential treatment are firmer. In addition to submitting a request for expedited processing, the patent applicant must also file a patent search report and an “Application for Prioritised Examination,” which is said to differ from one SIPO branch to another. After this is completed and the patent has been granted, the applicant must respond within two months of the first office action in order to maintain priority status. If the applicant corresponds with the local patent office efficiently, the entire process can be finished in a year’s time.
This article from Managing Intellectual Property magazine examines how China’s fast track procedure for green patents differs from those of other countries.
Though more international jurisdictions are beginning to give priority to environmentally-friendly and technology-advancing patents, granting IP protection in these categories can still be a slow process. Companies and patent seekers are urged to be proactive and have a strategy in place before filing. The PCT is a safe mechanism for entering the international market, but it is important to remember that time is of the essence.