LONDON – International IP firm Mewburn Ellis has released a mini-report that examines the trends in the operation and use of the UK IPO’s Green Channel program. The UK’s IPO Green Channel allows patent applicants to accelerate the processing of patent applications “having an environmental benefit” upon written, reasoned request, without charging an official fee.
Building on findings and conclusions made in the firm’s Green IP Report from 2021, the 2023 report finds a steady increase in the number of applications being accelerated under the Green Channel. Between 2011 and 2022, the acceptance rate has remained largely consistent, varying between 72% and 83%, while the volume of applications has grown year on year, with over 400 requests filed per year since 2020 compared to 250 in the years prior. This points to the effectiveness of the program to accommodate and support a growing wave of green innovation within the UK.
Speed of response
One of the main benefits of the Green Channel is speed, with those applications accepted onto the Green Channel granted more quickly than unaccelerated applications. Between August 2021 and August 2022, all but four cases received their next search or examination report within 70 days of filing the request. In 15 of these cases, the next report was issued within just two weeks.
An accelerated process is beneficial for those who wish to bring in investor with a granted patent but can result in bringing costs such as post-grant renewal fees forward.
Reason for request
In terms of program usage, the report found that between 2021 and 2022 the most accepted reason for Green Channel requests related to inventions with a reuse/recycle element (21%). This was followed by the development and use of clean energy production (20%), inventions that aim to reduce pollution or waste materials (20%), and inventions that seek to improve manufacturing efficiency and reduce energy or material usage (18%). Other technologies include green transport, pollution reduction, manufacturing efficiency, carbon capture and storage, and battery technology and manufacture.
Despite the many benefits outlined in the report, the scheme does come with risks. Most prominent of these is the visibility of acceleration requests to competitors, as compared to the ability to secretly speed up applications at the European Patent Office. Green Channel requests are made public on a register which is updated every month, allowing competitors greater insight into new innovations.
Eleanor Maciver, Partner, Patent Attorney and Sustainability Champion at Mewburn Ellis, said:
“If there’s one thing we don’t have when it comes to taking action on climate change, it’s time, so the acceleration of patent applications through the Green Channel is of great value.
As commercial demand and ecological urgency mount, technological solutions will be instrumental to achieving international climate change goals. It is pleasing to see the UK IPO’s broad requirements for acceptance have ushered in a diverse cohort of innovations with environmental benefit, whether remedying the impact of our daily activities through sustainable design or more directly tackling the mechanisms through which global warming occur, all while redressing a common bottleneck within the patenting process.
This is a global challenge, and the increasing number of countries offering patent application acceleration for green technologies is a vote of confidence for this approach. When compared to other global schemes, the UK IPO’s Green Channel is particularly accommodating, which has informed the wide nature of applications received. Hopefully, the future will see acceptance requirements for acceleration programs fall in other markets so that critical advancements can be implemented at speed.”
Paul Dunne, Partner and Patent Attorney at Mewburn Ellis, said:
“Securing investment and interest for green technologies can be tricky, given that they are often seeking to find a foothold in a well-established landscape. Having a patent can help to make investment more attractive, and having a patent quickly can be especially valuable, particularly for companies just starting out.
The results of our report show that the UK IPO’s Green Channel is proving of particular use to smaller UK-based companies where patents can have a big impact. Given the benefits of the scheme, we would encourage companies located elsewhere to also consider using the scheme as a means of not only obtaining protection in the UK, but also as part of a strategy to obtain faster patents for green technologies in other countries via the Patent Prosecution Highway”.
Elizabeth Dale, IP Director and Patent Attorney at Mewburn Ellis said:
“Protecting green technology is an important part of what we do at Mewburn Ellis. Anything that can assist in achieving this is to be encouraged. The UK IPO’s Green Channel is a great tool thanks to its pragmatic approach, speed and low cost with the potential for tangible advantage for innovators and intellectual property experts alike.
Despite the obvious benefits of the Green Channel, those looking to use it should approach it with care. We suggest that innovators should always seek to work alongside their patent attorney when developing an appropriate patent strategy for their portfolios.
We remain pleased to provide strategic advice to our clients who look to use the Green Channel and how it might be used to greatest effect within the context of their business needs”.
About Mewburn Ellis
Mewburn Ellis is Europe’s forward-looking IP firm, offering a full range of IP services covering patents, trademarks, and designs. The firm provides bespoke, flexible IP solutions to domestic and international clients, for the present and for the future. Clients include start-ups and innovative challenger brands, research institutions, and universities, through to multinationals and many of the world’s most well-respected IP and law firms. Mewburn Ellis operates from offices in London, Bristol, Cambridge, Manchester and Munich.
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