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The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is overflowing with more than 700,000 applications from inventors. The current wait time for a patent is, on average, three years. Unless your invention happens to be environmentally friendly. Politically-correct “green” applications get special treatment. Such applications can crash the line, so to speak. Even the petition fee is waived for environmental inventions.
The tidal backlog in patent approvals is costing the economy untold damage. Getting the patent process flowing may be the best way to jump-start the economy and create many thousands of new jobs. As David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), told CBS News in an Aug. 8 interview, “Every innovation comes through this agency on the way to creating a business, whether it’s a light bulb, whether is a laser, whether is the iPod.” Or, he could have added, whether it’s green enough.
One of the first “green” applications okayed for a patent took only ten weeks. It was Skyline Solar, a Silicon Valley, California, company, an outfit already benefiting from a subcontract with the U.S. Energy Department. The green technology priority pilot program began in December 2009. In May it was liberalized to broaden the environmental categories eligible for expedited examination.
The big mystery is why the Obama administration hasn’t dumped one of its typical multi-billion subsidies into the USPTO to spur the green jobs revolution. It is particularly strange that the Obama administration’s idea machine, the Center for American Progress (CAP) didn’t move with a bit more haste. Now, however, it seems to be in step with the move to get more environmental ideas to the marketplace in haste.
The ultra-liberal Center for American Progress has locked arms with the Patent Office, quite possibly to ensure that green will continue to be the color of choice in granting patents. Patent chief Kappos spoke on June 2 at a CAP meeting where he said “It’s quite a pleasure to join the team at CAP today.” He told the attendees that technological innovation is responsible for three-fourths of our nation’s post-World War II economic growth rate. He told those assembled that “intellectual property” is one area that could hold the key to creating jobs. “Some patents need to be issued more quickly than others, such as green innovation. The USPTO is right in the middle of that equation,” he said. Kappos, in answer to a question from the audience, said his agency has processed speedily “more than 1,000 green applications from all over the country” and the applications were “given accelerated priority” to promote more hiring and “clean, green energy and environmentally-friendly products and services.”
The serious danger in giving priority to environmental innovations ahead of all others is the probability of delay in processing applications for patents on crucial, life-saving biotechnological developments and discoveries in molecular biology which have made exciting advances in curing diseases and saving lives. By all reasonable standards they should come first. Aren’t human lives just a little more important than, say, a new solar panel?
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