UK Green Inventions Fast-tracked to Patent

As I was reading IP Kat this morning I learned that yesterday the UK Intellectual Property Office announced that green inventions will be fast tracked through the patent process.  David Lammy, Minister for Intellectual Property, announced the launch an initiative which will enable inventions with an environmental benefit to be given priority within the patent system.  About six weeks ago I suggested in an article that suggested to President Obama that he order the expediting of patent applications on green innovations because it would help the economy, make the world more environmentally friendly and improve US national security.  Is it possible that those running the Intellectual Property Office in the UK are reading what I wrote?  Is it possible that they are considering policy initiatives I suggested?  I suppose it is possible, and would love to think that is the case.  Regardless of whether my suggestions were considered or even known about, I think it is fair to say that since those in the UK IPO are embarking upon this path they must think that what I suggested was a good idea.  Perhaps with the UK following this path those in power in the U.S. will see the wisdom in trying to expedite patent applications on important technologies that can and will lead to the creation of jobs.  I hope those in the White House and in Congress give some serious thought to this UK initiative.

In the press release announcing this UK green patent initiative Lammy said:

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.”

The green patents initiative will make it easier and faster for new products to reach the market. It could take only nine months to get a patent granted under this scheme, compared with the current average time of two-to-three years.

Lammy went on to say that this initiative will begin effective immediately because no legislation is required.

Obama’s Environmental Actions
1 Hour PLI CLE ♦ $49.99

EPA Greenhouse Gas Regulation
1 Hour PLI CLE ♦ $49.99

IP Kat observed:

The Kat hopes someone is taking notes on the correlation between speed of patent grant and speed of product launch. If it exists, the speedy patent option should be available in all other areas too.

I understand what IP Kat is saying here, because there is no guarantee that the speedy issuance of a patent will result in a quicker product launch.  In fact, the issuance of a patent does not guarantee that a product will ever launch, or if a product does launch that anyone will buy it.  This is one of the reasons I so vehemently object to patents being characterized as a monopoly.  Patents do not offer or provide a monopoly, or even a limited monopoly.  In order for there to be a monopoly there needs to be a market and people who are willing to separate with money in exchange for the product covered by the patent.  Merely obtaining  a patent does not mean that the patent owner will get rich, or that there will ever be a market for the invention.  At best a patent offers a potential monopoly, which requires the existence of market demand.  Given patents owners can have others subsequently patent improvements and block improved versions, patents hardly offer the monopoly that most think they do.

Having said all this, it is undeniable, at least in the United States, that in order to obtain the capital required to build a technology based company there must be one or more issued patents.  We all know of stories where a start-up company was unable to obtain funding because the core technology was not yet patented.  We also all know of stories where venture capital funding was lined up, but because of unreasonable and unnecessary delay in the issuance of a patent the funding was lost.  This is a growing problem in the U.S. with a backlog that is out of control and patents routinely taking more than 4 years to issue, and in some cases over 7 years to issue.

By fast tracking patents that have commercial relevance it is much more likely that funding will be available for businesses to grow and people to be hired.  If this is replicated over and over, like it can and should be, this type of organic economic growth will help us get out of the economic funk that grips the world.  It is during recessions that the seeds are planted for sustained economic growth, but with a patent system that is so overworked, under-funded and hopelessly behind we should not anticipate the same type of economic growth coming out of this recession.  Meaningful innovation policies and initiatives could fuel economic growth, which is why our leaders need to do something positive, as is being attempted in the UK.  The fact that such a forward thinking policy will have environmental benefits is a bonus.  The fact that green technologies can alleviate reliance on unstable and often terrorist nations that control the world’s oil supply is a bonus, and a big one.  The more we can do to encourage green technologies the more likely jobs will be created, the environment will benefit and our national security will be improved.

Sending billions of dollars a year to countries that don’t like us very much is inexcusable when there are a growing number of alternative solutions.  All that is required are policies that are innovation friendly, and which invite the trillions of dollars sitting on the sideline to come out into the open and start to fuel the recovery.


Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of

Join the Discussion

3 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Madison]
    January 17, 2010 12:09 pm

    I’m surprised you didn’t sue them for stealing ‘your’ idea

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    September 11, 2009 10:14 am


    Our contact information is at:

    You can use the contact form to send me a message.


  • [Avatar for Farouk S. Derhalli]
    Farouk S. Derhalli
    September 11, 2009 02:18 am

    Dear Gene,I am trying to contact you but I failed >please tell me how to contact you.