The UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) has introduced a scheme through which parties applying for UK patent protection for an invention relating to green or environmentally friendly technology can request fast tracking of their patent application.
The scheme came into force on 12 May 2009.
For a qualifying patent application, the scheme allows the acceleration of a search, examination, combined search and examination, and/or publication of the application.
Applications in existence on 12 May 2009 will also be able to benefit from the service.
Procedures for requesting acceleration of proceedings on individual patent applications had previously been in place at the UK IPO.
However, for a request for accelerated treatment to succeed, applications were required to provide a good business reason to illustrate why the UK IPO should deal with a particular application over and above other pending applications.
The requirement for a reasoned request has now been removed for inventions relating to green or environmentally friendly technologies.
The ability to speed up a search could be helpful to applicants, especially early-stage companies, where demonstrating novelty of an idea can help in obtaining funding.
However, potential users should note that the UK IPO will not grant a patent application until at least three months after publication (to give third parties an opportunity to make comments if they wish).
In the normal course of events, publications take place at around 18 months from the initial filing date.