Qualified Electronic Signatures at the EPO
3rd December 2021
I recently had the pleasure of assisting the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys with the IP auditing of finalists for the Earthshot Prize organised by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Royal Foundation. The prize has characterised 5 environmental challenges to be solved, and awards £1million to a winner in each of the 5 categories for their innovative solutions. The categories are:
1. Protect and Restore Nature
2. Clean Our Air
3. Revive Our Oceans
4. Build a Waste-Free World
5. Fix Our Climate
This year’s winners were announced at a ceremony last month in London, and the prize will occur every year until 2030. Whilst some of the proposed solutions took more of a sociological form, there were a few impressive technological solutions in the mix for which patent protection is being sought. For example, the winner of the “Clean Our Air” category, Takachar, has an International Application (WO2021/096956A1) for a “System and Method for the Control of Biomass Conversion Systems”.
It will come as no surprise to the reader that there has been a substantial increase in the focus on making technology more environmentally friendly or even beneficial. Indeed it appears that, for a number of reasons, this is a trend which is only in its infancy and the demand for such solutions will only increase in coming decades.
The UK Intellectual Property Office offers the chance to accelerate the process for obtaining patent protection for inventions which have an environmental benefit. The so-called “Green Channel” requires a request in writing either at the time of filing a UK patent application or thereafter, indicating:
1. How the application is environmentally friendly; and
2. Which actions the applicant wishes to accelerate: search, examination, combined search and examination, and/or publication.
Companies such as BT have taken advantage of this process as recently as last month, with a request for accelerated prosecution of their application relating to an “Optical communications network and method for continuous service provision thereon”.
It goes without saying that the sooner one obtains patent protection, the sooner one will be able to benefit commercially from the monopoly right a patent affords. The UKIPO’s Green Channel is certainly worthy of consideration for at least this reason.
If you have developed an invention which has an environmental benefit, and you think you might want to obtain patent protection for it, please feel free to reach out with any questions about the process for obtaining a patent or the Green Channel.
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