Note: Green Technology: An Alternative Path to Accelerated Patent Examination

In the last quarter century, a particular problem facing humanity has become increasingly clear to innovators around the world: the consumption of immense quantities of natural resources of limited and shrinking availability.  Whether it is water, crude oil, natural gas, or trees, at some point, without finding sustainable solutions to overconsumption, we will exhaust the natural resources available on this planet.  As a leader in modern technology, our country should take a greater interest in the development of solutions to this crisis in the form of green technology that can be used to slow resource consumption.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) can have an impact on the environmental crisis by adopting patent reform to specifically encourage innovators to develop and bring to market novel inventions in the green technology field.  The PTO has made an effort to encourage the development of environmental technology through the Green Technology Pilot Program (“Pilot Program”), designed to expedite the patent process for environmentally valuable technologies.1  This program will be analyzed in detail throughout this note and its foundation will form the basis for the reforms and initiatives suggested herein.

In addition to the Pilot Program, there are supplementary means by which the patent process for valuable green technology can be utilized to stimulate innovation.  By partnering with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the PTO will be able to offer an effective alternative system to accelerate the patent process for environmentally beneficial technology.  This alliance would essentially weed out innovations that are insufficiently important to the environment, thereby ensuring that the PTO’s increased effort to expedite the patent process is not wasted.  In addition, such a joint initiative could uncover technologies that may have unforeseen environmental value and encourage their development with incentives in the patent office.

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Jay Hickey: Syracuse College of Law, J.D. 2012; State University of New York at Albany, B.S. in Biology 2009.  Thank you to Professor Lisa Dolak for going beyond the call of duty by sacrificing her time for the benefit of her students, and to the members of the Syracuse Law Review for the hard work that went into the editing process.  A special thanks to my mother and father and to all of my family and friends who have been invaluable throughout my academic career.

  1. See Pilot Program for Green Technologies Including Greenhouse Gas Reduction, 74 Fed. Reg. 64,666 (Dec. 8, 2009). []

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