Fresh from the UK's Intellectual Property Office this morning comes this press release, headed "UK 'Green' inventions to get fast-tracked through patent system". The text reads:
There then follow the Notes to Editors. It's normal to supply these for background information, but these notes are particularly interesting:
"David Lammy, Minister for Intellectual Property, will today launch an initiative which will enable inventions with an environmental benefit to be given priority within the patent system.
The proposal, which forms part of the Government’s broader approach on measures to tackle climate change, reflects the importance of maximising support for inventions which could have a significant impact on combating climate change.
David Lammy said:
“Climate change affects us all [says the IPKat, now that's a surprise] and any actions we take now to improve low-carbon technology has [er, 'have'?] got to be positive for both the environment and our future economic competitiveness.
"We have already taken great steps forward in greener motoring, supporting the development of new vehicles and encouraging motorists to make greener choices [Or to pay more for not making those choices? The Kat reckons the best green choice motorists have made recently is to install satellite navigation, thus not wasting fuel while driving around lost. Not sure this was a governmental Great Step ...].
"Today’s initiative builds on this by offering innovative UK businesses working in green technologies the chance to get high-quality patent rights faster than ever before. This in turn will speed up the time it takes to get products to market, benefiting both business and consumers. [The Kat hopes someone is taking notes on the correlation between speed of patent grant and speed of product launch. If it exists, the speedy patent option should be available in all other areas too]”
The green patents initiative will make it easier and faster for new products to reach the market [Hasn't the minister just said this?]. It could take only nine months to get a patent granted under this scheme, compared with the current average time of two-to-three years.
This initiative will take immediate effect from 12 May, as no legislative changes are required [Can readers confirm this final statement? Is it made only in respect of UK patents, as the title implies? How does it affect European applications? Is it retrospective or does it only apply to applications filed today and thereafter? Will it affect practice involving divisionals? Help ...!]".
The IPKat is not averse to fast-track options for patent applications. It's just that he likes a bit of reassurance that the complex ecostructure of the patent system will not be damaged by the introduction of a potentially harmful mutation which has no natural predator. Merpel says, if you start with the statement that no fresh legislation is needed, you can pretty well work out what the scheme will be: (i) the option of a fast-track search/application/grant for UK applications only, (ii) a new form to be filled in, with the 'reasonable assertion' of 'some environmental benefit', (iii) a new fee, (iv) the allocation of an examiner who might otherwise be examining a slow-track application, (v) a timetable leading to grant, (vi) an accelerated grant and (vii) slow-track applications being just that little bit slower ...
"Case studies of businesses that have recently filed a ‘green’ patent, or who will benefit from the fast-tracked channel are available for interview - details on request [this is welcome: readers are invited to peruse these case studies and comment accordingly].
Accelerated search and/or examination of the patent application will be made available to any patent applicant who makes a reasonable assertion that the invention in the patent application is one which has some environmental benefit [presumably the words "reasonable assertion" and "some environmental benefit" need neither explanation nor definition -- we hope]. The application will be fully searched and examined by a technically-qualified patent examiner [Why was it necessary to give this assurance? was anyone else contemplated?]".