Patents for inventions with green benefits are being fast-tracked as of this week.
Any applicant ‘who makes a reasonable assertion that the invention in the patent application is one which has some environmental benefit’ could take as little as nine months to get their patent granted, the Intellectual Property Office said. That’s a long mile shorter than the two to three years the process normally takes.
Minister for Intellectual Property David Lammy said: “Climate change affects us all and any actions we take now to improve low-carbon technology has got to be positive for both the environment and our future economic competitiveness.
"We have already taken great steps forward in greener motoring, supporting the development of new vehicles and encouraging motorists to make greener choices.
"Today’s initiative builds on this by offering innovative UK businesses working in green technologies the chance to get high-quality patent rights faster than ever before. This in turn will speed up the time it takes to get products to market, benefiting both business and consumers.”
China had also agreed on signing up to the initiative, and the UK is in talks with other major trading partners to get them in on the act.
So if you’re in the process of developing a new product that’s going to need a patent, it may well be worth refocusing your efforts to incorporate eco-friendliness to speed the whole thing up.
That said, once a patent is pending (i.e. you’ve registered it but haven’t heard yet whether it’s been approved), you’re normally on a safe-ish track to proceed anyway, so that extra few months or year may not make a whole lot of difference.
In fact, iTeddy developer Imran Hakim who successfully won investment in Dragons’ Den recommends pushing ahead with your business idea regardless of whether you’ve got your patent through - but it’s an area well worth researching thoroughly and worth taking some legal advice on if you’re really unsure.