How long did it take to get a patent under the Green Technology Pilot Program:

Program Pendency Averaged 19.7 Months

The Green Technology Pilot Program accepted 3,520 applications. At the time the program closed on February 16, 2012, 836 patents had been granted under the program. As of May 2012, the average pendency of all patents across all Technology Centers at USPTO was 33.9 months. Average pendency of applications prosecuted under the program was 14.2 months shorter than the average pendency for patents not benefitting from accelerated examination, a significant benefit to the applicants. The shortest pendency was 2.9 months — US Patent 8,071,358 filed by Gevo, Inc. The longest pendency under the program was 53.8 months — US Patent 7,919,289 filed by Poet Research. Inventors could make a request for accelerated examination for patents that were already in the pipeline. This accounts for pendencies that are longer than the length of the Green Tech Pilot Program. The Poet Research patent application had been pending since Oct. 10, 2006 when the Green Tech program began. Gevo Inc. received a second patent 8,097,440 which was filed on Oct. 10, 2011 and granted 3.3 months later on Jan. 17, 2012. Gevo's '289 patent includes a government interest statement citing contracts from both the National Science Foundation and the Environmental Protection Agency. The median (representing the value at which 50% of the pendency periods on individual patents are above or below, perhaps a more representative measure of central tendency) pendency was 18.3 months. Ninety five (95) percent of the pendencies are 37.3 months or less (mean + 2 X SD). In other words, 95 percent of the inventions accepted into the Green Tech Pilot Program and ultimately patented went from initial application filing to patent award in 37.3 months or less.

Based on the 95% estimation of time spans, virtually all of the patents from the Green Tech program are expected to issue by late March, 2015. Should any of the applications accepted by USPTO around February 16, 2012 require a pendency period as long as the maximum for those reviewed in this analysis (53.8 months), the last Green Tech Pilot Program patent could issue as late as mid-August, 2016.

Frame of Reference and a Closer Look

At the writing of this report, USPTO reported total pendency of all patents across all Tech Centers as averaging 33.9 months. The pendency in individual technology centers varies. While all Technology Centers handled applications under the Green Tech Pilot Program, three USPTO Tech Centers (2800, 3700, 1700) issued 700, or 84 percent (84%) of the patents granted by the Green Tech Pilot Program. Patent applications prosecuted under the Green Tech Pilot Program resulted in significant compression of pendency across all Technology Centers.

Technology Centers # of Green Patents 2012 Pendency In Months Green Pendency In Months
1600 — Biotechnology and Organic Chemistry 55 32.6 18.2
1700 — Chemcal and Materials Engineering 195 33.9 20.4
2100 — Computer Architecture, Software, and Information Security 38 39.6 20.4
2400 — Computer Networks, Multiplex communications, Video Distribution, and Security 1 42.4 21.1
2600 — Communications 7 39.6 15.4
2800 — Semiconductors, Electrical and Optical Systems and Components 288 31.6 18.4
3600 — Transportation, Construction, Electronic Commerce, Agriculture 35 32.6 19
3700 — Mechanical Engineering, Manufacturing, Products 217 37.4 19.8

How pendency was measured

USPTO measures pendency as the average number of months from the patent application filing date to the date the application has reached final disposition — issued as a patent or abandoned. This is called disposal. Pendency includes the time period awaiting action by USPTO as well as time waiting for applicants to reply to USPTO. Pendency, measured USPTO style, is helpful to individual inventors and assignees because they know that their patent is about to be issued well before the public is aware of a patent grant. For this study pendency is measured as the period between when the patent application was filed and the date when the actual patent was granted and published.

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