I came across the International Energy Agency's World Energy Investment 2023 report recently, and was interested to read that "[g]lobal investment in clean energy is on course to rise to USD 1.7 trillion in 2023, with solar set to eclipse oil production for the first time". The press release for the report notes:
Led by solar, low-emissions electricity technologies are expected to account for almost 90% of investment in power generation. Consumers are also investing in more electrified end-uses. Global heat pump sales have seen double-digit annual growth since 2021. Electric vehicle sales are expected to leap by a third this year after already surging in 2022.
Given that investment and innovation typically go hand in hand, with the rapid increase in investment in green technologies there will undoubtedly be a rapid increase in innovation in green technologies. In order to encourage innovation in green technologies, many patent offices now provide a green channel in order to expedite grant for environmentally friendly inventions. The threshold for what is considered to be "environmentally friendly" differs amongst patent offices, but is relatively low in the UK. For example, the following is taken from the UK patent office's (UKIPO) website:
The service is available to patent applicants who make a reasonable assertion that the invention has some environmental benefit. If, for example, the invention is a solar panel or a wind turbine then a simple statement is likely to be enough. However a more efficient manufacturing process which uses less energy is likely to need more explanation. We will not conduct any detailed investigation into these assertions, but will refuse requests if they are clearly unfounded, for example if the application relates to a perpetual motion machine.
Therefore, any invention that "has some environmental benefit" is likely to be successful in gaining access to the green channel at the UKIPO. Gaining access to the green channel has direct and indirect advantages. The direct advantage is that the patent application is fast tracked through its prosecution (e.g. search and/or examination). This can be highly beneficial if quick grant is required. An indirect advantage is that gaining access is to the green channel is to arguably have a patent office validate your innovation as green. This validation may be useful when seeking investment, for example. However, careful consideration is required before using green channels. For example, a potential downside to using a green channel is, like any accelerated prosecution, costs will be brought forward.
If you would like any information regarding using green tracks, please do get in touch with us and we'd be happy to help.