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US Patent Office Fast Tracks Green Patents

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the government-always-liked-you-best dept.

Earth 136

eldavojohn writes "A new initiative is being piloted where 'green' patents are given special priority over other patents in the backlogged system. David Kappos (Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO) said, 'Every day an important green tech innovation is hindered from coming to market is another day we harm our planet and another day lost in creating green businesses and green jobs. Applications in this pilot program will see a significant savings in pendency, which will help bring green innovations to market more quickly.' The details of how you qualify for a green patent (PDF) are available with patent blogs offering opinions on this initiative."

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136 comments

Hmm, seems a little weird. (5, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384968)

Seems a trifle off. Something about "equal protection under the law" and not having the institution too subject to the whims of the ruling party and the lobbyists of the week.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385012)

What? My widget is green! We painted it last week.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386946)

In Soviet Russia, RED patents fast track the USPTO.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (4, Funny)

MakinBacon (1476701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385254)

What are you talking about?. This is perfectly normal. The Patent Office is just fulfilling its duties of stifling innovation by granting patents for the most obvious of technologies. They know they've gotten a little behind on green technology because companies are starting to make serious advancements, so they're giving green patents a higher priority to make up for lost time.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386322)

Don't you mean the coal and oil companies are noticing that small startups and individual inventors from all over the world are coming up with all kinds of neat 'green' technologies, so they are rapidly stuffing the patent office with filings for things other people invented?

Oh no, they would NEVER try to kill any tech that threatens their strangle grip on our energy supplies.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (1)

Yokaze (70883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385538)

Yes, you are right, why doesn't the porn industry get the same subventions as the crop industry.
How dares the executive to set priorities, instead of spreading the money equally amongst men.

Maybe equal protection has nothing to do with it?

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385630)

One way to speed up things would be to dismiss a lot of patents for being too obvious.

And that's something that doesn't need to require too much skill.

Also make sure that any patent dismissed for obviousness can't be refiled.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386456)

A better way would be to stop issuing software patents.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386702)

Evidently, you have no idea how patent prosecution actually works. The claims in most applications are rejected as "obvious" in view of other prior art. The PTO sends an action rejecting the claims back to the attorney/agent and they consult with the client to further limit the claims and more accurately define the invention or argue against the rejection, amend the claims, etc., and then the application is examined again. There is no such thing as "dismissing" a patent--an application becomes a patent when it claims something nonobvious and is allowed after examination by the PTO.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387418)

This is the part that bother me: "Every day an important green tech innovation is hindered from coming to market is another day we harm our planet and another day lost in creating green businesses and green jobs."

I just heard that quote on a Christian radio station not too long ago, but with slight differences: Every day a [missionary work] is hindered from coming to market is another day we harm our [souls] and another day lost in [saving the sinners]. More-and-more Greens are looking like they belong in a church, but to hear that style zealotry coming from our own government employees is disconcerting.

Re:Hmm, seems a little weird. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385738)

Agreed. This is totally gay in terms of ridiculousness. If they should give priority to any one sector, it shouldn't be a sector that is fueled by politics and lies as that will not advance technology (as Patent law is intended to do). How about you bumb up all those CPU patents, which are actually going a million miles an hour these days so that the patents stay will the technology? "Green" just means a lobbyist has payed off the right people anymore (with no specific definition of what "green" really is).

So, if it's like software/internet patents -- (5, Funny)

weston (16146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30384988)

-- you know, the ones where you can say "a method for conveying stateful customer information ON THE INTERNET -- then pretty much all I'll need to contribute to the progress of the useful arts and sciences and, more to the point, amass a formidable patent portfolio, is add USING SOLAR POWER.

I've already applied for the business method patent, but reasonable licensing is available!

Re:So, if it's like software/internet patents -- (5, Interesting)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385072)

Every patent will point out that it consumes less energy than it theoretically could have if it had been poorly engineered. It's...greener than the alternative...I guess.

Faster algorithms will qualify. Just tabulate the total energy saved in data centers that will use your green algorithm. New, large hats might reflect more visible sunlight back to space. New oil extraction methods will more efficiently deliver fossil fuels to gas tanks (thereby lowering the price point and generating more emissions), a new method of writing patents can will green-wash them so they generate less paper work in the streamlined process. All will qualify! (Except that the meta-green patent is a methods patent and wouldn't qualify anyway.)

Re:So, if it's like software/internet patents -- (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385772)

And don't forget guns and ammo! The more people you kill the greater the reduction in the harmful impact on the biosphere by humanity!

Re:So, if it's like software/internet patents -- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386138)

I have a patent on using autistic persons for monotonous tasks.

Re:So, if it's like software/internet patents -- (1)

Paeva (1176857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386948)

Look. It's a *jump to conclusions* mat - that's - *solar powered*.

Patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30384994)

Guess it's time to update the old resume [trollaxor.com] .

There's going to be difficulty... (5, Insightful)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385018)

sorting out truly green patent applications from ones that have green-washed the terminology. I suspect it will do more to promote the, already abused, usage of the term green than actual environmentally friendly initiatives. Still, promoting less wasteful technology is by no means a bad thing, whatever the motive. Even if the initiative fails to promote green inventions (not that I'm saying it will, just that it will be ambiguous to determine), the ideal of efficiency and conservation will be promoted in the public eye.

Re:There's going to be difficulty... (5, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385122)

It doesn't matter. It is merely a political move by this guy to make his boss (or boss's boss) happy.

The fact is, this move will do nothing to increase the speed of technology, because technology in no way depends on the patent system. You don't have to wait for a patent to be processed before you can actually build and market your product. You don't even have to wait to charge royalties until the patent is approved. This new policy will accomplish nothing.

Re:There's going to be difficulty... (4, Insightful)

chaboud (231590) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385450)

What it does do is solidify the positions of green IP holders looking to screw companies in less advanced nations by taking their cut of (or limiting production of) the "green" products that will be required to play in the newly-legally-mandated global green economy.

I know it sounds all tin-foil-hat-y, but the prospect that CO2 policy could be used to keep richer nations dominant via IP has been haunting me for some time. If US/Euro companies get their cut of the green economy mandated by their own governments without actually having to produce anything, it could artificially screw with otherwise normal factor-price equalization.

Re:There's going to be difficulty... (2, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386360)

Ah, don't worry, IP is mostly used to screw richer nations, and is one of the reasons that western industry is so incapable of competing these days. From a macroeconomic point of view it's the equivalent of a heavy taxation scheme, and a very inefficient one at that, leading to higher costs in industry and workforce and rendering it uncompetitive. It'd be almost amusing to see complaints about high taxes and inefficient government while getting reamed by IP if it just wasn't so sad.

The less advanced nations aren't likely to get screwed as badly as they're simply not the low hanging fruit for extortion, especially as long as they don't agree to any significant expansions of IP schemes. Still, for the less savoury parts of some economies, branching out from 419 scams to the nearby patent field might not be a bad idea.

Re:There's going to be difficulty... (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387796)

Green patent trolls, green cross-licensing agreements, green blocking of competitors....

Re:There's going to be difficulty... (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385714)

Muhaha... "the use of materials that can be more easily replenished and/or recycled". Patent Pending... suck it bitches.

Re:There's going to be difficulty... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387240)

the ideal of efficiency and conservation will be promoted in the public eye.

Nonsense! The "public" neither knows nor cares what type of patents are being issued, so they'll not even notice "the ideal of efficiency and conservation" being "promoted".

The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (1, Funny)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385026)

In a related story, a team of scientists from New Zealand claim to have found a cure to HIV, but that it has been backlogged in the US patent system for years.

In an interview, the lead scientist said "We were waiting for our patent to go through, and we just got this notice 'Your Patent has been moved back in the queue to make room for "greener" energy patents. We hope you understand, as we take part in saving the world'. I thought it was a joke at first, but the 1-800 number at the bottom was for the US patent office".

Yes, the HIV patent, a wonder-drug that could potentially save millions of lives and end suffering all over the world, especially in poorer third world countries, was backlogged to make room for new patents. Some of the recent "green" patents to come out of the US Patent Office was a "Perpetual Energy Machine, 100% Guarantee!!" and a new type of drinking straw that requires 2% less plastic during the manufacturing process than existing models.

The US patent office has refused to comment on this particular incident, but they did say "We're Always doing our part to save the world, one invention at a time! (tm)".

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385054)

They're waiting for all of the Negroes to die off before they approve the HIV vaccine.

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (4, Interesting)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385062)

The patent process for pharmaceuticals is (very) different from the regular process. In the US, drug patents are usually applied for and granted 8-12 years before the drug is brought to market, and even a few years before human trials begin.

Purported "HIV wonder drugs" sadly seem to be about as commonplace as perpetual motion devices these days.

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385524)

Purported "HIV wonder drugs" sadly seem to be about as commonplace as perpetual motion devices these days.

You don't need a wonder drug to cure HIV. Just puree a large amount of hard currency and inject it directly into the bloodstream. Problem solved.

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (4, Insightful)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385082)

Saving lives is far from "green."

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385188)

Kill yourself.

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (2, Funny)

baboo_jackal (1021741) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385512)

*That* however, is very green.

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385124)

Actually, perpetual machines have more stringent guidelines for patent application, where there must be a working prototype first.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_machine [wikipedia.org]

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386094)

Actually, perpetual machines have more stringent guidelines for patent application, where there must be a working prototype first.

I thought all inventions needed a working prototype. That'd be a very sane requirement to stop the flood of silly, stupid and obvious patents that are only based on some fancy idea rather than actual research.

Re:The Law of Un-Intended Consquences (1)

TrancePhreak (576593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386168)

Some inventions are prohibitively costly to produce, so no working prototype is necessary.

Uhhh (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385036)

"Every day an important green tech innovation is hindered from coming to market is another day we harm our planet and another day lost in creating green businesses and green jobs. Applications in this pilot program will see a significant savings in pendency, which will help bring green innovations to market more quickly."

I'd consider myself a reasonably strong environmentalist, but cannot for the life of me comprehend that quote. Aren't products released to market all the time with a "Patent Pending" status? Wouldn't environmentalism benefit from weaker patents surrounding green tech?

The same logic has been applied to drug patents, which only last 7-12 years in the US, purportedly to widen availability of generic drugs, as well as to keep the industry on its toes. (As the law of unintended consequences goes, this makes non-generics outlandishly expensive, and makes pharma a very high-risk industry, given the incredibly high R&D costs of developing/testing new drugs)

Re:Uhhh (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385220)

Wouldn't environmentalism benefit from weaker patents surrounding green tech?

That is the biggest question, and the answer is a resounding yes. If everyone can make the greenest FOO, it will less expensive. If it's less expensive, it will be more likely to replace existing non-green FOO. I know I might buy more CFLs if they would cost less than Incandescents.

Re:Uhhh (2, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385262)

That is the biggest question, and the answer is a resounding yes.

Then it's not much of a question, is it?

Even though I agree with you on a basic level, I'm not sure I agree with the principle. Without patents, what drives innovation to produce the newest and greatest green FOO? The R&D expenses for some of this stuff can be quite high.

(Also, how many lights do you have that CFLs are a cost-prohibitive option? I replace them one by one as they burn out. A 3-pack of good-quality CFLs costs about $6 at Wal-Mart. Still about 3x the cost of the same number of incandescents, although the CFLs last a lot longer, and use sufficiently less energy to pay for themselves over their lifetime)

Re:Uhhh (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385416)

But your so wrong, patents are the road block with innovation, because there's no point in investing in RnD when some patent troll already has some board patent on what your working on. the patent Troll won't ever produce the invention, they are just going to suck the life out of anyone doing the RnD. So no one produces anything new because most stuff is covered under ridiculous patents.

to me the best solution is either force them to produce a prototype or limit the patent to 3 years if nothing is brought to market. to me if you can't produce a atleast ONE unit in 3 years, then your just squandering the oppertunity that someone else could actually do something with.

Re:Uhhh (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385452)

I'm not usually a grammar fascist, but - are you drunk, or really trying to make a serious argument with that incomprehensible run-on?

Funny thing is I actually AGREE with your second statement about producing a workable implementation, otherwise limiting the patent length. But I totally disagree (I think, it's hard to tell ;) with your first, that patents inherently block innovation. I guarantee you that 90% of the modern drugs in use would not exist if they were not patentable. And most USEFUL patents in general are not trollable - just the obvious ones, which should never have passed the patent review in the first place.

Re:Uhhh (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385582)

I'm not going to apologise for not proof reading something i posted on slashdot 50 times to avoid grama nazis, i just don't care ok (plus it's funny when you point the finger and then include such gems as a ;) )

that aside, i'd like you to provide some examples of modern drugs that wouldn't exist without patents. I hear this kind of defence for patents, but never any actual examples to back it up. again my proposed 3 year limit to bring it to market would protect these anyway.

Re:Uhhh (4, Insightful)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385436)

A 3-pack of good-quality CFLs costs about $6 at Wal-Mart. Still about 3x the cost of the same number of incandescents, although the CFLs last a lot longer, and use sufficiently less energy to pay for themselves over their lifetime

As good little consumers I know that's what we're supposed to think, but:

1. my experience has shown that CCFL's need replacing much more frequently than incandescents ever did.

2. they only consume less energy if they're left on for long periods (> 30 mins or so) as they have quite high start-up currents until they come up to operating temperature (1-5 minutes).

3. they output much higher levels of UV than incandescents, aggravating some skin conditions and causing retinal damage with some people.

4. they also contain hazardous chemicals such as mercury, complicating their disposal - our local city council has no *legal* means of CFL disposal yet, with most people just throwing them in with the regular refuse.

I think that our (Australian) federal government having "phased out" incandescent bulbs is a premature action. I'd rather see LED lighting get traction but, again, hazardous chemicals.

Re:Uhhh (0)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386254)

please read this :
http://www.popularmechanics.com/home_journal/home_improvement/4215199.html [popularmechanics.com]
"The results surprised us. Even though the incandescent bulb measured slightly brighter than the equivalent CFLs, our subjects didn't see any dramatic difference in brightness. And here was the real shocker: When it came to the overall quality of the light, all the CFLs scored higher than our incandescent control bulb. In other words, the new fluorescent bulbs aren't just better for both your wallet and the environment, they produce better light."

replacing much more

absolutely not in my experience.

Re:Uhhh (0)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386660)

please check your data.
4. --> http://www.popularmechanics.com/blogs/home_journal_news/4217864.html [popularmechanics.com]
    wikipedia and other sites have the same conclusion : less mercury in the environment for CFL's than for incandescent.
LED's : I don't think they contain that much dangerous chemicals. dertainly not if you aalso consider life expectancy of LED's (50K-100K hrs ...)

Re:Uhhh (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386858)

"LED's : I don't think they contain that much dangerous chemicals."

If the word ARSENIDE is present in the diode formulation (such as an indium-gallium arsenide emitter,) then yes, there is a toxic substance. But still, pretty tiny amount.

There's cyanide in your boogers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387284)

There's cyanide in your boogers. That's right. When you're ill and your bogies are greenies, that green is because of cyanide your body produces to kill off infected cells.

Cyanide is a toxic substance.

BAN NOSES!!!!

Re:Uhhh (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386820)

1. PL-L CFLs need the replacing more often - they way they're designed is absolutely horrible and they burn themselves out because of it. I bought a 3-pack of regular spiral CFLs from Albertsons for $1 (thanks to a then-running Edison Electric sponsored special) and so far these have outlasted every PL-L that my apartment complex uses (all bathrooms use PL-L fluorescents and the new spotlight outside my stairs uses PL-L, and while my CFLs are a year old already, the PL-L tubes aren't even three months old, and they've already blown out.

Apparently, this is a common issue with PL-L lamps, as my apartment, and other apartment complexes around us that use PL-L, suddenly do not have any in their inventory. They've been replacing them so often they've exhausted what was supposed to be a year's supply in less than three months.

I'd really just love to move to something like T2VHO micro linear fluorescents. (Don't exist, YET) I like my T5HO lights. Great workshop, horticulture, and general lighting.

2. Newer designs effectively eliminate this by using a new electrode and ballast type.

3. Incandescents do not output UV. The gas that surrounds the filament MIGHT produce it, depending on the gas type. Halogen? Absolutely. Oxygen/nitrogen? Nope. Fluorescents, by their design, are UV lamps that have UV shifted to visible wavelengths by rare-earth phosphors coating the inside of the tube. While the tube BY LAW does filter out UV, it doesn't filter it all out (nor should it, as UV, specifically UVB, is needed in small amounts by humans for vitamin D production, a good thing for us indoor types that don't get much sun.) As long as people aren't right up on the bulb (as they would be in a tanning salon) this is an absolute non-issue. After one meter the uW/m-2s-1 of UVB is negligible as far as damage goes.

4. A full 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom household (assume 3 in living room, 2 in each bedroom, three in each bathroom, maybe six for a small kitchen, couple in the garage, one in the attic, a couple for the back porch and a couple for the front porch, so 28 bulbs,) using nothing but pure CFL lighting has less mercury in all their bulbs combined than in an older house's mercury-based switch in the thermostat control. The average CFL has 4-5mg of mercury, so 28*5 = 140mg. I can get a full gram or two of mercury out of the thermostat control switch, depending upon age. Most houses still use these switches.

Disclaimer: I just entered the industry as a professional consultant (LEDs) but for most of my horticultural purposes I use purely T5HO, and I use pure CFL around my apartment (2bd 2bth.) Total amount of mercury is 114mg, including my T5HO lighting. While we can't replace mercury yet, we can use less of it in combination with other amalgams to achieve the same results.

Re:Uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387396)

2. they only consume less energy if they're left on for long periods (> 30 mins or so) as they have quite high start-up currents until they come up to operating temperature (1-5 minutes).

I saw that mythbusters, pretty sure the worst 'start-up current' they measured was the long tube fluorescents, these had start-up currents equal to about 30 seconds, (not minutes) of normal run time.

Re:Uhhh (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387842)

1. Not in my experience.
2. The only study I know said break even was five mins.
3. A few watts of US is going to do significant damage?
4. You may have a point.

Re:Uhhh (1)

tyrione (134248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30388038)

Not all CFLs are equal. I'd rather see LED get traction, but first in Municipality lighting for highways, downtowns, stadiums, corporations, etc., to help drive down the cost with them absorbing the R&D tariff.

Re:Uhhh (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385560)

A 3-pack of good-quality CFLs costs about $6 at Wal-Mart.

I'm going to rant here....

The delay in reaching full brightness irks me to no end with CFLs. It's not a big deal when you are talking about a room where you turn the light on and leave it on for several hours (my living room) but it drives me up the fucking wall when you consider rooms that you breeze in and out of (the bathroom, closets, etc.). By the time the damn things reach a decent level of light output you've already moved on to the next household chore.

Then there's the Hg content. I wonder how much mercury is going to enter the environment as a result of improperly disposed-of and/or broken CFLs? It also bothers me that I can't find a single CFL made in America. They all come from China. I can still buy incandescent bulbs made in America. In a few years I won't even be able to do that -- Congress can't find the political will to balance the budget but they can tell me what kind of light bulbs I can buy? WTF?

Re:Uhhh (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386004)

The additional coal burned to power an incandescent bulb will release a lot more hg into the atmosphere.

Re:Uhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386494)

People are more worried about the Hg splashed in their bathroom sink next to their toothbrush / kitchen next to their cutlery than the Hg spread around the atmosphere of the planet.

Re:Uhhh (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386810)

People are more worried about the Hg splashed in their bathroom sink next to their toothbrush / kitchen next to their cutlery than the Hg spread around the atmosphere of the planet.

Those selfish SOBs! What's a little brain and central nervous system damage & psychosis to them and their kids/pets as compared to the will of the one true Gore?

Besides, I'm sure that at this very moment there's a new EPA CFL/Hg Spill Taskforce being planned behind closed doors to solve this health and environmental threat. They'll monitor residential areas by drone for Hg spills (among other things), swoop in, clean it up, and deliver the federal paperwork on the toxic spill costs & fines to the victi...err...owners of the CFL-upgraded property, and meanwhile deliver the drone surveillance recordings to interested police/drug enforcement agencies & TLAs. Make the surveilled help pay for their own surveillance! Brilliant!

As dime-store-novel as such a plot seems, the scary part is in these times with such blatant disregard the government exhibits toward citizens, it's nearly believable.

Strat

Re:Uhhh (1)

Com2Kid (142006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386236)

The delay in reaching full brightness irks me to no end with CFLs.

Stop buying dirt cheap CFLs.

I have seen cheap CFLs that take a 3+ minutes to reach full brightness. Then there are the ones I am using that take all of 10 seconds or so. Maybe less, since they are so bright to start off with, unless you are paying really close attention you can't really notice the difference.

Then there's the Hg content.

*sigh*

Wikipedia has some very well cited [wikipedia.org] numbers showing that CFLs result in less mercury emissions than incandescent.

If you recycle your CFLs properly (and there are many CFL recycling programs around, your local power companies web page may have a listing, if it doesn't yell at them to make one!) they may very well end up emitting next to or no mercury at all.

Congress can't find the political will to balance the budget but they can tell me what kind of light bulbs I can buy? WTF?

Balancing the budget is a bit harder than "plz use more efficient lighting kthxbye". Other things the very same government advises: Avoid child toys containing lead. Contaminated meat is bad. Asbestos is not good for your lungs.

See, figuring out what to deny us is easy, figuring out what to deny themselves is a bit harder. ;)

Re:Uhhh (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385810)

That is the biggest question, and the answer is a resounding yes. If everyone can make the greenest FOO, it will less expensive. If it's less expensive, it will be more likely to replace existing non-green FOO.

Your logic is flawless assuming that somebody bothers to invent the greenest FOO in the first place. Where will you find investors to finance your R&D if they know that the moment your invention is proven to work everybody will copy it and sell it at a lower price than you (since they don't have to recoup those R&D costs)? Without patents, the smart money is on waiting and copying, not inventing.

Patent Pending (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385276)

As a fellow "greenie" I agree, the statement is full of political buzzwords "green business", "green jobs", "significant savings", "green inovations", "to market more quickly".

He is simply trying to justify his departments existence with an obvious lie, either that or he has no idea what his department actually does.

At the very least... (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385470)

...there should be compulsory licensing for all the green patents. In other words, you have to license the technology. To make that practical, I'd also stipulate that you have to license it at a reasonable rate and I'd base that on a fixed percentage of the sales price of the items made by the licensees.

This would also lay to rest all the "big oil companies bought the patent on the green tech so they could suppress it" conspiracies.

Actually, I think there should be compulsory licensing on ALL patents (ie, no suppressive patents), but we have to start someplace, and if this turns out to be more trouble than it's worth for some reason, it's good to start with just a subset of patents so it's easier to step back.

Re:Uhhh (1)

nametaken (610866) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385740)

"Wouldn't environmentalism benefit from weaker patents surrounding green tech?"

I think the idea is that strong patent protection encourages research and development by offering a limited monopoly to the patent holder.

Re:Uhhh (1)

cbope (130292) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385846)

Except that in the US, the *marketing* budgets of the major pharma's far outweigh their R&D budgets. One of the major reasons why drugs are so expensive in the US is due to the marketing of drugs directly to consumers. This is something that has really bothered me a long time. You should never buy a drug based on the marketing of that drug by the manufacturer, e.g. TV ads. You should buy a drug that is selected by your doctor based on your illness, among other factors. Of course if you're in the US, hopefully your doc is not in bed with a pharma company, otherwise you are screwed. Another sad topic...

When I moved out of the US, I really noticed the lack of pharma advertising. No viagra ads on TV, no XYZ drug of the week ads, etc. Here in the EU pharma advertising is regulated, as it should be. And our drugs are far cheaper.

Here'e mine (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385108)

An apparatus for the sequestration of carbon dioxide in liquids, such as well water or tap water, removing harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and allowing the possibility of selling the liquid with the carbon dioxide therein as healthy and refreshing drink to Europeans and East-Coast Yuppies.

Re:Here'e mine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386800)

Well, if you actually want a patent on that, you need to define the apparatus itself, not merely what it does. Since the above claim does not define an invention, it would not be allowed.

Overkill (4, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385136)

Looking around my hotel room here, there's no less than:
Green shampoo and conditioner
Green shampoo bottles (made from corn!)
Green soap (no soap in the middle of the bar - less waste!)
Green soap box (it's brown! it must be good for the enviroment!)
Save the environment sign with a panda bear, telling me to reuse my towels. (If you don't, the panda will eat you?)
Another sign explaining just how green the green soap is (and the green soap is actually branded "Green Natura"), including the use of soy products for the ink.
Green facial soap.
Sign telling me not to smoke unless I can breathe backwards.
Sign by my bed, telling me I need to place it on the bed if I want my sheets changed.

My fucking lord - you want MORE green products? Where will they go?

Re:Overkill (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385280)

Most of the "green products" you've just mentioned in all likelihood have little actual environmental benefit. Alternative energy technology on the other hand may very well serve us well economically and environmentally. Even if you don't care one bit about the environment, you've ot to admit that at some point we're going to grow beyond what fossil fuels in of themselves are capable of providing.

Re:Overkill (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385566)

you've ot to admit that at some point we're going to grow beyond what fossil fuels in of themselves are capable of providing.

We've had the technology to displace fossil fuels since the 50s. We just moved away from it because of a handful of loud NIMBYists/greenpeace'ers and a whole lot of FUD.

Re:Overkill (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385796)

>>Most of the "green products" you've just mentioned in all likelihood have little actual environmental benefit.

But... but... they say GREEN in huge letters on the boxes! Surely they must be good for the environment! My lord, man, my soap has a giant hole in the middle of it! If that doesn't save the pandas, I don't know what will.

But yeah, seriously. Nuclear power.

Dammit! (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385534)

You stole my idea for a "green" suppository!!

Re:Overkill (1)

Tom (822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385928)

My fucking lord - you want MORE green products? Where will they go?

Uh, we're talking about patents here, dude. You know, that thing which originally was intended for ideas that nobody else has had so far?

Amazon (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385180)

Patents "Green One-Click Checkout"

Politicizing the patent office (4, Insightful)

doug141 (863552) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385208)

More suggestions:
*fastrack patents that "help the poor"
*fastrack patents that will "create jobs"

This is just to broaden options for repaying campaign contributions.

Re:Politicizing the patent office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385312)

Who will fast track patents that track patents fast?

Re:Politicizing the patent office (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385392)

Who will fast track patents that patents track fast will who?

Fixed that for you.

Re:Politicizing the patent office (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386516)

Fixed that for you for that fixed

Fixed that for you for that fixed

Government actions occur for political gain (1, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385298)

This is yet another example. When businesses decide things, they make choices to maximize financial gain. When governments decide things, they make choices to maximize political gain. Therefore, anyone who trusts the government to act in their interests had better be damn certain they never lose an election or fall out of political favor. If you're not directly in power, you're just "the little people" and that power will be wielded against you. You'd best hope those are limited powers.

BTW, this story is essentially an admission by the Patent Office that they're corrupt. It's just that their mission has been corrupted by an ideology rather than any sort of direct monetary payments. Maybe next week the Patent Office will start putting Mormons or their personal friends or people who donated money to John McCain ahead of everyone else.

Re:Government actions occur for political gain (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385506)

How dare you question green initiatives? You must be a CLIMATE DENIER. There is no place for such questioning in scientific discourse. You're lucky you aren't burned at the stake for heresy.

Re:Government actions occur for political gain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385814)

Wow, way to miss the sarcasm modder person.... but on a serious note, the green people actually do say that stuff and act that way if you haven't noticed. It's the new witch trials.

Re:Government actions occur for political gain (1)

idiotnot (302133) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387332)

Mod parent up. This is political payback to the civil lawyer lobby who heavily fund Democrats. When they talk about "green jobs," they're obviously talking about cases for the trial lawyers to litigate.

You can also bet that "green" products won't have a statutory limit on liability claims from injured people anytime soon. Even if one of these products turns out to have health effects worse than asbestos.....

good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30385364)

This is good we've only got about half the arable land in the US being used for 'green' bio-fuels so that food prices go even higher, with luck all of Haiti and south america will starve this time, we only managed to kill about half of them earlier this year. Go Green!

Better idea (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385424)

Hire more examiners and make sure a good part of them have degrees.

How do we pay them?

How about a royalty tax? ...and that includes on the ridiculous settlements exacted by patent trolls.

Re:Better idea (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385562)

How about every denied patent becomes a granted patented which is the property of the examiner?

Re:Better idea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386742)

I think every examiner in the PTO has at least a BS degree and many have advanced degrees - patent examiners make pretty good money and the job leads to lucrative careers in the law after leaving the PTO.

We pay them through all the fees that the patent office charges for prosecution. In fact, the PTO makes so much off of fees that it turns a profit every year for the U.S. government.

Green Tech and Trolls (1)

The Redster! (874352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385428)

Troll:
Would you grant them for some dough?
Would you grant them for some blow?
Would you grant them for B-Ho?
Will you grant them, yes or no?

Locke:
Yes, we will grant green tech to trolls!
They'll make us look good for the polls!

Bubble (3, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385448)

Green-tech: the next big stock-market bubble. Just remember to bail out when the feeding frenzy starts to feed on itself.

Re:Bubble (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386874)

Some of us are in it to stay because we have actual products, expertise, and technology to contribute - most everybody else is full of shit.

OOh an opportunity to Patent-Troll (0, Troll)

nadamucho (1063238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385486)

I'm going to patent the patenting of green patents. That way, while everyone is pursuing the effort to GO green, I'll be EARNING green!

I have to file my patent quickly! (0, Troll)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385500)

Oh good, now I can get my patent on "process for deploying biological devices to convert CO2 into oxygen and sugar using various enzymes in combination with solar power." I call this invention "plants."

Re:I have to file my patent quickly! (1)

Scannerman (1136265) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385786)

If only this was a troll!

Unfortunately this idea, if properly written up, would probably get granted a patent. The level of examination now seems to be absolutely zero.

A few days ago I was handed a copy of a patent that was recently granted (to a large airplane company based in the NW USA) it contains a long list of reference documents, reading of which should be sufficient to show the examiner that it contained nothing much original.

A guy I know had a patent granted which contained the wording (from memory) "This method represents a digital implementation of a standard analogue approach" . These guys know they are trying it on, and are being fairly honest about it.(they are engineers, don't like this system anymore than we do, but do what the boss says)

None of this seems to stop patents being granted.

Re:I have to file my patent quickly! (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386148)

Cynical and possibly venomous, but not a troll.

I hate patents! (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385526)

Patents are stifling battery technology. Further in the case of environmental and health concerns, there should be no patents at all. Additionally, greater minds than mine, such as Benjamin Franklin, a pioneer in the nascent field of electricity and electrical technology suggested that patents IN GENERAL were immoral, selfish, and that innovation should be contributed "For the Greater Good".

But whatever, let's rush the patents on stuff that we need for the planet faster, so that these greedy corporations can charge you more sooner!

It's asinine. We need patent and copyright reform ASAP. I suggest a 10 year limit on any technology or piece of art. If you can't contribute something useful again once a decade, or save your earnings from that decade and live off of that, TOO FUCKING BAD, FUCK YOU!

This is excellent news, but alas comes too late (0, Troll)

Budenny (888916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385658)

Yes, its great news. Now, we have a great way of stopping some of these idiotic ideas in their tracks, which is what patents usually do, or stopping them once they have got going, which is almost as good. But it comes too late for many ideas, which are already in the public domain.

For example, we can no longer patent the idea of killing huge numbers of birds by erecting vast quantities of whirling mobile metal machines on migration routes, on the pretext of generating electricity. The thing I truly wish we could have patented is the idea of allying with industry to develop wild areas while erecting these things, but calling the result conservation. Where was the USPO when we really needed it?

We can no longer patent the idea adjusting the surface station record to show unprecedented warming regardless of what it actually shows. We cannot either patent the famous method of 'hiding the decline' in the proxy record.

We cannot patent the idea of pretending that the Arctic is going to melt and flood the planet sometime very soon, thus raising vast amounts of grant money to do studies to find out how soon.

More serious, we cannot patent the idea of seeding the upper atmosphere with sulfur, and so there is every chance that fools will actually try and produce a new ice age by doing it.

So its a great idea and a most innovative step by the USPO, but they should have done this 20 years ago, and we could have either become enormously rich, or spared the world the greatest mass hysteria since.... Well, certainly since the millenial frenzy around the year 1,000, but maybe one has to go back even earlier.

Still, look on the positive side. If we are a little creative and surreptitiously join some green circles, there is no shortage of truly insane public policy ideas being floated. The best may have gone, but never underestimate the capability of the environmental movement to come up with more. It may be too late for society, but there is probably still time to get very rich if we get busy patenting now.

Patents do NOT on balance encourage innovation (3, Interesting)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 4 years ago | (#30385844)

Say, you have an idea for improving the efficiency of solar panels. Commercializing it will cost many millions of dollars, but there is a healthy expanding market. Why not? Well, if there are several patents held by other organizations on inferior solar panels, but including necessary aspects of your better design, this severely restricts future profits from sale of the improved panels, and the viability of development.

Unfortunately, this is not just theoretical. It is the what happens time and time again. Often, the obvious aspects of some technology get patented early which makes it uneconomic to do the necessary optimization of the process for a decade or more.

Patent trolls... (1)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386082)

are green with envy. Do they qualify?

Appeal to emotion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30386454)

First we had 'just think of the children' to justify the bonehead policy of the day. Now we also have
'just think of the planet'.

Sigh.......

I am glad (1)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386686)

the Patent Office is laying the ground now to keep our future lawyers employed. This fast tracking is going to open the doors to a lot of lawsuits. It is not like the PO has a stellar track record anyway when it comes to granting patents.

Faster green patents.. (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386886)

Hopefully this will apply for those with an actual product and not some half-cocked theory without any real testing to back it up.

Wishing in one hand, the other hand is beneath my asshole.

more patent abuse (1)

kwikrick (755625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30386944)

I'm skeptical. Big coal and oil companies are already patenting the hell out of every possible green tech, without any plans to actually implement this. Fast-tracking patents is likely to hinder innovative green startups, which cannot afford to patent everything, nor lawyers to hold off the bad guys. Rather depressing. Please tell me I'm wrong.

Good, I like this (0, Troll)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387030)

Considering that the whole "green" movement, like a watermelon is green on the outside and RED on the inside, I think it will be good for the rest of us if it has to choke on silly patents.

Since the bureaucracy is pushing fast approval of "green" patents, expect the USPTO, in order to make quota, start rubberstamping applications of extremely obvious and silly patents, such as "method of conserving electricity by actuating switch" (ie: turn off the lights).

About the only people who benefit from "fast tracked" patents are patent troll companies and lawyers in Texas.

Of course, the only person who seems to have benefitted from the "green" movement is it's high priest, Algore himself, who has become filthy rich off the trading of fradulent "carbon offsets", rich enough to live in a mansion that uses 20 times the electricity of an average American, to own a fleet of SUV's and limos, and to fly only on private jets.

When the doomsayers start practicing in their own lives what they wish to impose on the rest of us, I might start taking them seriously.

Strike the word "green". (1)

Nihixul (1430251) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387118)

It seems that Mr. Kappos's statement would have been perfectly fine without the word "green":

"Every day an important tech innovation is hindered from coming to market is another day we harm our planet and another day lost in creating businesses and jobs. Applications in this pilot program will see a significant savings in pendency, which will help bring innovations to market more quickly."

Fast track (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387120)

Does this mean it will only take 1 year for the patent to go through?

Ultimate Green Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30387296)

It seems that we are being led to believe that "Carbon Emissions" are the cause for all the world's woes. (It snowed because of Global Warming!?) So I have come up with the perfect idea to patent:

We line up every person who talks about the Polar Bears, "Think Green", those assholes who put the Green "think before you print this" tag at the bottom of their emails, all PeTA members wearing leather shoes, and Al Gore, and them take away their air supply. Yeah, that's right... no more air means no more breathing, means no more carbon emissions from them. Once the idea is patented, I'll make money every time a tree-hugger stops breathing!

That should buy me a few more years of driving my SUV and get the cash to afford to drive it!

nothing will kill green jobs faster (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30387302)

than a bunch of patents.
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