Canaan Bridges Consulting | 3 minute read
World Intellectual Property (IP) Day was celebrated a few months ago amid unprecedented challenging times across the globe.This year, the World IP Day theme asks the question: how can we innovate towards a green future? In various parts of the world even behind closed doors, innovation still continues. To this end, what role does IP play in mitigating climate change? This note speaks on this from the perspective of how (under what conditions) can IP rights and strategy promote green innovation, and assist in mitigating climate change.
In thinking more clearly about this connection, three points are canvassed below. These points may be particularly helpful to green innovators, project managers in green IP intensive sectors and policy-makers in related fields.
Tip One: IP Awareness among Green Innovators
It is all too familiar: a green entrepreneur has developed an innovative product, but lacks knowledge on how to transform the product into an IP asset. There is little to no inherent value in intellectual property without its commercialization. Before sound commercialization strategies are conceived a sensible question is: has your green product in fact generated IP? And, what type(s) of IP can be attributed to your green product?
While it is not impossible to develop and commercialize IP without basic knowledge on the innovators part, an innovator armed with basic knowledge in the field, is likely to be more confident and knowledgeable in business pursuits. For example, knowing how to conduct prior art searches can save the green innovator time and money, where such searches shed questionable doubt on the novelty of a green invention. Further, knowing how to differentiate between different IP forms can equip green innovators with basic knowledge about which IP works best for their products. For instance, in some circumstances, it may be more advisable to use non-disclosure agreements (protected via trade secrets) to protect valuable data and processes than using patent rights. The dissemination of relevant IP knowledge to key green stakeholders is therefore an important aspect of promoting sustainable innovation for a green future.
Tip Two: Is there a Role for Green Patent Pools?
Patent pools enable patent owners to pool their patents together. Patent pools may consists of databases of complementary or substitute patents, available to users (licensees) for a fee. When it operates effectively, it enable licensees to obtain different patents necessary for a project a particular set price. In this context, it may reduce transaction costs. Complementary patent pools are usually preferred over patent substitutes, for reasons which will become clearer below.
Patent pools are not the standard in the green industry. However, it is one way of commercializing and managing IP, and may be worthwhile investigating its fit with specific green products. For example, can sustainable linkages be made between green technologies and patent pools? What benefits are available for an early entrepreneur in the clean technology space seeking to pool her patents with that of others in related but different industries? How will this work across jurisdictions?
One drawback of patent pools is that they may run afoul of anti-trust laws, particularly where the pool is mostly composed of patent substitutes. The reasoning behind this: when the patents are substitutes for each other, there is little or no incentive for others outside the pool to innovate in the field. The pools may therefore become a breeding ground for monopolistic behavior. Early green entrepreneurs considering patent pools should fully explore the costs and benefits of being a part of the collective.
Tip Three: Connecting Global Networks towards sustainable outcomes
It is almost impossible to develop, successfully commercialize and effectively manage green innovation in silos. Building sustainable global partnerships help green innovators to remain viable long term businesses. While useful opportunities may emerge from similar-situated partnerships, networks that are composed of interests groups from diverse sectors may be helpful in advancing the goals of green innovators. In this context, the focus is not just on IP related concerns, but may include human and financial capital, market access opportunities, and collaborations that secure IP interests in the long term. Sustainable partnerships are a plus to promoting the IP and innovation narrative in the global green future space. When well engineered and used along with other IP strategies, it facilitates the sustainable integration of green innovation into every day uses. The benefit? Strategic global partnerships can help to shift the paradigm in the IP and climate change discourse, to more realistic and beneficial outcomes for owners and users of green innovation.
To learn about how we can help you in managing and commercializing your green products, email: email@example.com.