Accelerated examination now available for green-tech patent applications
To encourage the development of green technologies, the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office (TIPO) is now including green technology patent applications in the Accelerated Examination Programme (AEP). As of 1st January 2014, green technology patent applications are entitled to expedited examination if the applicant files an AEP request.
The AEP was originally launched on 1st January 2009 by TIPO for a one-year trial period; the programme was amended as of 1st January 2010 and again on 1st January 2013. In order to qualify for the AEP, an application must be an invention patent application which has been published publicly before the AEP request, regardless of whether the substantive examination of such application has begun. Previously, an invention patent applicant which was notified by TIPO that examination or re-examination of the patent application would begin shortly could apply for the AEP by submitting the relevant documents and fees if one of three conditions was met:
- The application’s foreign counterpart had been granted under substantive examination by a foreign patent authority.
- The European Patent Office, Japan Patent Office or US Patent and Trademark Office had issued an office action during substantive examination, but has yet to allow the application’s foreign counterpart.
- The invention application was essential to commercial exploitation.
As of 1st January 2014, a fourth condition for AEP eligibility now applies: the invention patent application is an application related to green technology.
To encourage the use of the AEP by green technology patent applicants, TIPO is accepting a broad definition of 'green technologies'. An invention patent application will be eligible for the AEP if the invention relates to:
- Technologies related to energy saving, new energies or automobiles powered by new energies.
- Inventions related to energy saving and carbon reduction.
According to statistics published by TIPO in December 2013, as of March 2013 the top three countries from which green technology patent applications originated were:
- Taiwan (58%).
- Japan (20%).
- United States (9%).
The top three industries involving green technologies were LED lighting, solar energy and fuel batteries.
Applications for a green technology AEP are accepted by TIPO as from 1st January 2014. The official fee for a green technology AEP is NT$4,000 (approximately US$134), which is the same as that for a commercial exploitation AEP application. The documents required for a green technology AEP are merely explanatory documents illustrating that the invention patent application is green technology related.
In practice, it takes approximately 29 months for TIPO to issue the first office action for an invention patent application that is not subject to the AEP. In comparison, it takes only approximately nine months for TIPO to issue the first office action for an invention application under the AEP. The time saved will help to enhance the competitiveness of inventors and enterprises which devote themselves to green technologies, and is beneficial in terms of both environmental protection and economic incentives.
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