Green Channel – UKIPO’s free scheme to speed up prosecution and grant of patent applications to environmentally friendly technologies
The UK Intellectual Property Office’s (UKIPO) ‘Green Channel’ allows applicants to request accelerated processing of a patent application. No official fees are required and all that the applicant must do is make a reasonable assertion to the UKIPO explaining the invention’s environmental benefits. The criteria for what the UKIPO will consider to be an environmental benefit is relatively generous.
Even relatively subtle environmental benefits, such as increasing overall energy efficiency or reducing environmentally unfriendly by-products of a known process, are often sufficient. Indeed, applications to the ‘Green Channel’ appear to be mostly refused when they are very clearly unfounded (the example given by the UKIPO is claiming a perpetual motion machine).
In our experience, use of the ‘Green Channel’ can speed up the grant of a patent to under two years, which is much faster than the three to four years that applicants might usually expect. This can be particularly useful to applicants who wish to have rights granted in the UK to leverage as soon as possible – whether to deter potential infringers, negotiate more favourable licensing terms, assist a company’s asset valuation, or to attract external investment – whilst obtaining patent protection overseas on a slower track, to help manage costs.
Additionally, the UKIPO publishes a list of patent applications successfully entered into the ‘Green Channel’. Having an official UKIPO endorsement of your invention’s green credentials may help showcase your business’s environmental prowess and validate your company’s green agenda.
Written by: Max Ziemann