24 May 2023

Number of UK Green Channel patents falls by 47% within the last year

Data and commentary provided by Mathys & Squire has featured in articles by Environment Journal and The Patent Lawyer providing an update on the decline in Green Channel patent applications.

An extended version of the press release is available below.

The number of Green Channel patent applications in the UK has fallen by 47% within the last year, decreasing from 313 applications in 2021* to 166 applications in 2022*, says intellectual property law firm Mathys & Squire.

The Intellectual Property Office’s Green Channel was introduced in 2009 to encourage the development of more environmentally friendly technology by providing a quicker route for the patenting of that technology. It allows inventors of eco-friendly products to bypass the years’ long wait and obtain patents two to three times faster than they otherwise would.

The decline in the number of Green Channel applications may be because the benefits offered by the scheme aren’t enough of an incentive for smaller companies.

Posy Drywood, Partner at Mathys & Squire says that a better way of encouraging the development and patenting of green technology would be for the UK Government to pay for fees due to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) for green patents.

Patent applications submitted through the IPO’s current Green Channel are fast-tracked through the evaluation process. However, the sooner a patent is approved, the sooner patent fees are due.

The Green Channel’s accelerated processing means that applicants have less time to gather the necessary funds, which isn’t always ideal for small businesses that may struggle to pay. In this way, speeding up the patent process could discourage small businesses from using the Green Channel.

Posy Drywood adds: “If we want to see a substantial increase in green technology created by the UK, just speeding up the patent application process is not going to cut it. Small businesses need more than that to make using the Green Channel worthwhile. As green technology is so important to the growth of the UK economy, subsidising green patent applications should be considered.”

“While fast-tracking the application process is a benefit, it also speeds up the time in which applicants have to pay their patent fees. That may be a deterrent to small businesses, especially as we enter into a period of economic uncertainty.”

“In its current state, the Green Channel isn’t working as effectively as it could do to promote more green technology. A better way to encourage greater IP production is to make patenting those products more affordable.”

*Year-end December 31