In an effort to bring environmentally-friendly innovations to market faster, intellectual property offices around the world have been instituting policies and practices that encouraged the streamlined processing of so-called "green" patents. According to the latest research commissioned by the International Center for Trade and Sustainable Development, early returns from these "fast-tracking" frameworks suggest that legislation is having the desired result.
According to Intellectual Property Watch, preliminary research findings revealed that fast-tracking programs are reducing patent wait times and accelerating the "diffusion of technical knowledge" as intended - whether or not they offer direct financial incentives to applicants. However, inventors across all regions expressed a somewhat surprising ambivalence regarding such initiatives.
Researchers found that only 8 percent of American inventors applying for green patents opted into a fast-tracking program, with less than 2 percent of Australian, Japanese and Canadian counterparts following suit.
Those figures suggest that expedited review programs may be suffering from a lack of awareness. In addition, the lack of standardization regarding green technology definitions may be an underrated inhibitor of patent system success.
Nevertheless, startup companies focused on climate change technologies appear to be the most avid subscribers to fast-tracking frameworks. As researchers noted, securing IP protection and establishing patent licensing contracts are often the earliest forms of revenue generation for these firms.