Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development just published a timely
and informative report on the accelerated examination programs for green
technology patent applications offered by a number of national patent offices
around the world.
Antoine Dechezleprêtre, a Research Fellow
at the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London
School of Economics, conducted the study and wrote the report.
Green Patent Applications," the report is the first empirical analysis
of these programs. It addresses important questions such as the
number of patents accelerated under the programs, the technologies of
participating applications, whether and how much the programs reduce time from
filing to grant, the value of fast tracked patents, and knowledge diffusion of
the patented inventions.
Data were analyzed for the programs in Australia,
Canada, Israel, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom (UK), and the United States
(US). Brazil and China now have green patent fast track programs,
and are discussed briefly, but they are too new to be analyzed in the study.
The study looked at the volume of green patents
accelerated in each program as well as the proportion of participating
applications as a share of total green patents. It found that the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had by far the most patents (3,533),
followed by the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) with 776 and the Korea
Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) with 604.
For most programs, a very small share of the average
annual number of green patents participated. In Australia, Canada, Japan
and Korea between 1% and 2% of green patents requested acceleration, though the
percentages were substantially higher in the US (8%), Israel (13%), and the UK
(20%). A related finding is that the vast majority of participants in the
US and UK programs were domestic applicants, with only small percentages
applying to the programs from abroad. Perhaps harmonization of the
programs, as I suggested here, would boost participation particularly across
The study found that technologies relating to
climate change, particularly renewable energy, comprised the vast majority of
fast tracked patents, with some variations across different countries. In
the US, wind power was the major technology (boosted significantly by GE, by
far the number one assignee in the US program), with carbon capture and storage
big in Australia and Canada.
Perhaps most important in view of these programs' raison
d'être, the empirical evidence presented shows that the green patent fast
track programs reduce the time from filing to grant by several years compared
to ordinary examination. The time to grant has been cut between 42%
and 75% across the programs, with the best improvement delivered by the UK
As to the applicants, the report found that most are
We found that fast-track users differ statistically from
non-users in that they tend to have smaller revenues and smaller but
faster-growing assets. In other words, the fast-tracking programme seems
to appeal particularly to start-up companies in the green technology sector that
are currently raising capital but still generating small revenue.
Two intriguing issues explored by the study are
the value of the patents applicants elected to accelerate in the programs and
the knowledge diffusion effect of the fast tracked patents. Using several
common patent value metrics, the study found that fast tracked patents were of
significantly higher value than green patents issued after ordinary
Overall, our results consistently show that fast-track
patents are of higher value than equivalent patents going through the normal
The study used forward citations to measure diffusion of
the technical knowledge in fast tracked patents compared to non-fast tracked
patents and found that accelerated patents exhibit a higher citation rate,
indicating greater knowledge diffusion:
Compared with patents filed in the same month, of similar
value but not fast-tracked, fast-track patents received twice as many citations
in the same time period. The estimated impact of fast-tracking on forward
citations ranges between 50% and 150%, depending on whether citations made by
examiners are included or not. Thus, there appears to be strong evidence
that green patent fast-tracking programmes accelerate the diffusion of
knowledge in green technologies in the short run - i.e., during the first years
following the publication of the patents.
You can get more information and download the report here.
View more from the Green Patent Blog.
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