The UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has a number of ways in which an applicant can accelerate the prosecution of their UK patent application, one of which is the “Green Channel” service. The UK IPO’s Green Channel service provides a way in which you can obtain accelerated search, examination and/or publication of your UK patent application if your invention has an environmental benefit.
Here, we explore why and how you might want to accelerate prosecution of your UK patent application using the UK IPO’s Green Channel service.
Renewable energy and sustainability are at the forefront of many people’s minds, with “green” technology evolving and changing at a very quick pace. It can therefore be of great importance to obtain patent protection for “green” technology as quickly and effectively as possible. Without acceleration, obtaining patent protection can be a lengthy process, with the UK IPO issuing a full examination report on the patentability of the patent application within an average of 42 months (3.5 years) from the priority date (Gov.UK).
A request for accelerating the search and/or examination of the application can be useful for you to have the UK IPO’s opinion on the patentability of their invention quickly. This can help you decide whether or not to continue with the patent application process and/or file applications outside the UK. For example, if the invention is known or is an obvious improvement on what is already known, then it might be worth considering abandoning or withdrawing the application before incurring any more costs or before the application is made available to the public.
Accelerating the prosecution of a patent application using the Green Channel may allow you to get a granted patent more quickly so that you can enforce your rights against an infringer. If you believe that someone is working your invention, you should contact your patent attorney, or contact one of ours if you do not have one, to discuss the next steps.
Accelerating the prosecution of the patent application to obtain a granted patent more quickly may be important in obtaining investment or funding.
After a patent application has been filed at the UK IPO, a request for acceleration using the Green Channel service can be made at any time whilst the application is pending.
A request for accelerated prosecution must be in writing and indicate:
The request can be made to accelerate different stages of prosecution, such as search, examination, combined search and examination, and/or publication of the application. There is no official fee for requesting acceleration using this channel, but a service fee is likely to be incurred if you are using a patent attorney.
Once the request is filed with the UK IPO, you should receive a letter either accepting or rejecting the request for accelerated prosecution. If the request was successful, then a search and/or examination report should be issued promptly thereafter, typically within 1 to 2 months.
What is considered an invention that has an “environmental benefit”?
The Green Channel service is available if you can make a reasonable assertion that the invention has some “environmental benefit”. If, for example, the invention relates to a solar panel or solar energy, then a simple statement in a letter to show that the invention has an environmental benefit is likely to be enough. However, if the invention is related to, for example, a manufacturing method or process with fewer steps than other known methods which results in using less energy; the request letter might require more explanation as to how the method or process is environmentally beneficial. Preferably, in any case, the letter should reference passages from the patent application which disclose the benefit of the invention and how it could impact the environment in a positive way.
In 2021, the UK IPO received 449 applications through the Green Channel (Gov.UK). Examples of published UK patent applications which were accelerated through the UK IPO’s Green Channel can be found on the link here.
As mentioned above, other acceleration channels are available at the UK IPO. If you are interested in accelerating the prosecution of your UK patent application, either through the Green Channel or other acceleration services, please contact us to discuss your requirements with one of our attorneys.
Our attorneys are engineers and scientists who have direct experience of the renewable energy sector and we are keen to support clients in this growing and important area.