Program Snapshot

Analysis of patents granted under the 2009 USPTO Green Technology Pilot Program.

The Obama Green Agenda

Green technology and job creation was an essential component of the Obama Administration's plan to combat the recession underway in the US economy. The goal of the program is summed up in this commentary from the Obama Administrations initial Green Jobs Czar as the Obama administration took office, "Solar panels don't install themselves. Wind turbines don't manufacture themselves. Homes and buildings don't retrofit or weatherize themselves. In our industrial society, trees don't even PLANT themselves, anymore. Real people must do all of that work." The Green Technology Pilot Program was part of the Department of Commerce USPTO activity in support of that agenda.

Green Sound Bites From Back In The Day

Building a robust clean energy sector is how we will create the jobs of the future, jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced

President Obama — 2010

This is our generation’s Sputnik moment…we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race… We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

President Obama — 2011 State Of The Union

They also need a policy environment that supports employers who are trying to bring low-carbon prosperity to our country. With those things in place, we can begin to put some green rungs on America’s ladder of opportunity.If we are smart, we will make the invention, manufacturing and deploying of clean energy technology a cornerstone of the next American economy – and create green pathways out of poverty, while we do it.

Van Jones, Green Jobs Czar — January 2009

The stimulus provided some $90 billion in financing for a wide array of clean energy programs…$29 billion for improving energy efficiency, including home retrofits; $21 billion in incentives for renewable generation, such as solar and wind; $10 billion for modernizing the electric grid; $6 billion to promote advanced vehicles and a domestic battery industry; $18 billion for high-speed rail and other trains; $3 billion for research into carbon capture for coal plants; $3 billion for job training; and $3 billion for clean manufacturing tax credits.

Washington Post — October 2012

Estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an adjunct of the Department of Energy, show that of the nearly $9 billion that has so far been spent on green jobs, the government created just 910 new, long-term jobs.

Department of Energy — 2012

Program Outcomes

In 2012, ten years ago, Wayfinder Digital analyzed the first traunch of 836 patents granted under the Obama Era Green Technology Program. Here is a summary of what we found.

Program Element


Number of Patents Granted through February 14, 2012: 836
Number of Unique Classes of Inventions: 111
Chemical Patent Count: 279 — % of the Total: 33%
Electrical Patent Count: 318 — % of the Total: 38%
Mechanical Patent Count: 239 — % of the Total: 29%
Technology Centers Three USPTO Tech Centers — 1700, 2800, 3700 — issued 84% percent of the patents granted by the Green Tech Pilot Program
Top USPC Class 416 — Impellers — Fluid Reaction Surfaces — 80 patents
Top Invention Category Wind Energy — 211 patents
Average Pendency (Filing date to Grant date): 19.7 months (596 days)
Pendency Range The pendency ranging between 2.9 and 53.8 months.
Patent Vintage Virtually all of the patents from the Obama Green Tech program were issued by late March, 2015.
Number of First Named Inventors: 557
Number of Unique Assignees 207 (Excludes Individual Inventors assigning patents to themselves)
Top Assignee: General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) 167 patents
Top Inventor: Robert Wieting of Stion Corporation — 13 patents
Number of Countries Represented (Assignees & Inventors): 22
Top Country: United States of America — 710 patents
Top State: California — 204 patents

What The Data Told Us

General Electric Company and Ford Global Technologies, own 30% of the patents granted under the USPTO Green Tech Pilot Program.
Two thirds of the patents issued were in 10 technologies
Energy patents account for 68.9 percent of the patents granted, followed by Transportation (13.4%), Industry (12.5%), Air (2.7%), Water (2.2%), and Agriculture (0.2%)
Energy patents were dominated by wind, solar, and lighting inventions, with 402, or 71.6 percent (71.6%), of the Energy patents.
Wind turbine technology comprises 25 percent (25%) of all the patents granted.
Wind patents fall into three technologies, dominated by turbines (210 patents), followed by generators (2 patents), and transmission (1 patent).
Patents related to methods of manufacturing dominate the solar energy category. (71 out of 108 patents, or 66%).
LED technology dominated the lighting patents accounting for eighty eight percent (88%) of the lighting patents granted.
Ford Global Technologies LLC, was the leading recipient of Transportation patents with 71% of the 111 transportation related patents issued.
The majority of Transportation patents (67%) were for internal combustion engine technology inventions, with the remainder pertaining to electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles, other vehicles, and roadway technologies.
There were 107 industry and manufacturing-related patents. Sixty-five percent (65%) of the patents were for bioengineering or chemical engineering technologies.
Use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was the dominant bioengineering technology (81%).
Production, crystal growth, and inorganic compound technologies dominate (75%) the chemical engineering patents.
Patents for air-related inventons (23) were dominated by carbon capture, NOx removal, and acid gas removal (69%).
Eighteen patents were issued for water-related technologies. Sixteen patents (16) or 89% were for wastewater treatment technologies.
Two patents were issued in agriculture, one each in fertilizer alternatives and yield enhancement technologies (sunscreen for plants).
Air and water patents were on average almost twice as complex as those from the other areas based on the number of USPC classifications assigned to the patents.
No green technology patents were issued for resource extraction or harvesting inventions.

The Final Count

As of September 17, 2013 USPTO has accepted 3,520 applications, and granted 2159 patents under the original Green Technology Pilot Program. These patents were granted to 384 companies; 147 independent inventors; in 34 countries.

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