- The fall in patent applications indicates the need for a better system to stimulate green technology
- Reduction of patent fees likely to increase eco-friendly inventions
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 search and/or examination process. However, the sooner a patent is examined, the sooner costs are incurred for the applicant. Speeding up the patenting process is therefore something that many businesses, and in particular small companies with limited funds, would like to avoid.
Posy Drywood adds: “If we want to see a substantial increase in green technology created in the UK, merely offering companies the opportunity to speed up the patenting process using the Green Channel is not enough. In many cases, speeding up the patenting process is something that companies wish to actively avoid because it accelerates the costs that are incurred as a patent application progresses to grant.
“The biggest barrier that most small businesses face when it comes to patenting their technology is cost, so surely the most effective way to increase the number of greentech patent filings would be to subsidize them. For instance, a 50% discount on the fees for an international patent application could make a big difference, allowing small companies to protect their innovation globally.”
“The statistics on uptake show that the Green Channel isn’t working as effectively as it should. A better way to encourage greater IP in the field of greentech is to make patenting those products more affordable.”
*Year-end December 31