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Patents and Clean Energy: Bridging the Gap
between Evidence and Policy
A first glance at the methodology and findings
Patents and Clean
the gap between evidence and policy
IISD Trade and Investment Symposium
XX.XX.2009 Seite 1
14 December 2009. Copenhagen
Enhanced transfer of climate friendly technologies :
A key element of a global climate change deal
• The UNFCCC calls on developed countries to take steps to
promote transfer of technology (TOT) to developing countries
(Article 4.5).
• Bali Action Plan calls for “enhanced action on technology
• Discussions at the UNFCCC on IPRs have witnessed a
polarization around the question of whether IPRs are a
barrier to the transfer of climate change technologies or an
essential pre-requisite to promote innovation and technology
Menu of options in the negotiations for addressing
the nexus Technology Transfer/IPRs
• Negotiating text reflects a wide range of views and proposals:
→ Business as usual approach
→ Promoting the transfer of technologies in the public domain
→ Promoting R&D cooperation
→ Patent pools
→ Building capacities on research and innovation in
developing countries
→ Use of TRIPS flexibilities
Exclusion from patentability/compulsory licensing,
Deconstructing the role of IPRs in Technology Transfer
• Technology Transfer (TT) is a complex and multidimensional process.
• Its success is contingent on many factors (finance, local absorptive
capacity, enabling environment).
• TT involves knowledge which is embodied not only in IPRs such as
patents but also in blueprints, designs, know-how and trade secrets.
• IPRs are important to promote innovation. By offering protection against
a loss of control of information in technology-related transactions, IPRs
can be an instrument facilitating the transfer of technology.
• IPRs have also an impact on cost of technology acquisition and rate of
technology diffusion. Licensing conditions play a key role.
• Role of IPRs varies according to technology and sector. IP issues
raised in the context of mitigation technologies are different from those
in the context of adaptation.
Bridging the Gap between Evidence and Policy
on IPRs and Clean Energies
• Empirical data and analysis on transfer of climate change
technologies and IPRs is limited and recent.
• The scale of the challenge is such that only a broadly
based partnership can succeed.
• UNEP-EPO-ICTSD Project on Patents and Clean Energy
announced in April 2009.
Unique Partnership
Robust Methodology
Some Preliminary Findings
Engineering a Unique Partnership
• Each organization brings its perspective, skills and
expertise to the project:
→ UNEP (UN Agency/Green Economy Initiative)
→ European Patent Office (Specialized Expertise in Patents)
→ ICTSD (NGO/Work on IPRs and Sust. Development)
• The project includes carrying out:
→ Technology Mapping
→ Patent Landscape of energy generation technologies
→ Survey of Licensing practices in clean energies
Research and Analytical Steps
Current project
Further possible projects
Technology Mapping studies in 4 key mitigation sectors identified by the IPCC
Identification and specification of technologies for mitigation
Patent landscaping: What patents exist on these
Licensing survey for 300-500 selected companies and
institutions per sector
Synthesis report to better inform UNFCCC negotiations on
transfer of technology and financing
Broad dissemination of results
Robust Methodology (I)
• Simultaneous combination in the same study of technology
mapping, patent landscape and survey of licensing practices.
• Technology Mapping validated by IPCC experts.
• Patent Landscape carried out by EPO patent examiners.
• The patents have been identified individually in the EPO’s
EPODOC database, which is the most comprehensive source of
data on patent documents.
• Survey of Licensing Practices carried out in cooperation with
business associations.
• Not a one time exercise but a continuous flow of information
Robust Methodology (II)
• For the purpose of carrying out the Patent Landscape, the
International Patent Classification system (IPC), only
provides broad classifications for clean energy technology.
• The EPO enhanced the search process through its own
internal European Classification system (ECLA), which
provides a significant advantage over previous searches
based on the International Patent Classification (IPC)
system or other systems.
• As a result, the EPO has developed new and more
specific classification codes for tracking clean energy
• These new classification now enable searching to be made
easier and more thorough given that many clean energy
technologies overlap.
Patent Landscaping
• The areas of technology targeted in the searches were: wind
energy; hydro/marine energy; solar energy; geothermal
energy; biofuels; carbon capture and storage, and energy
• Increase in patenting in clean energy technologies as against
fossil fuel energy. In particular, wind-power, solar photovoltaic
and CO capture have been exhibiting a rapid growth in
recent years.
• The patenting activity across all clean energy technology
appears to be dominated by Japan, US, Germany, Korea,
Great Britain and France.
• Significantly, 87% of solar photovoltaic patents are
invented by Japan, US, Germany, Korea and France.
Growth rate of
clean energy patenting
Patenting in solar PV energy
Survey of Licensing Practices
• 680 organizations contacted, 155 responses. 66%
private companies, 18 % academic institutions and 4%
• IP laws and protection in the developing country where
the technology is to be licensed was an important factor
for technology holders. However, of equal importance
was the scientific capabilities, infrastructure, humancapital of the licensee.
• The main recipients of licensing: BRIC countries, with
China topping the list.
• Willingness to provide more flexible licensing terms
(including monetary ones) in developing countries? 65%
of respondents gave a positive response.
• Facilitating licensing arrangements?
Next Steps
• UNEP-EPO-ICTSD side event at COP-15, 18th
December (11:00-12:30), Room Liva Well, Bella
• Final Report during the first half of 2010.
ICTSD Initiative on
Climate Change Technology and Trade
• Initiative launched in 2008 as an informal mechanism to formulate a
research agenda, identify gaps and priorities to be addressed with a
view to Identifying obstacles and potential points of intervention to
promote the transfer of climate-related technology.
• Recent policy oriented research:
Innovation and Technology transfer to address climate change:
Lessons from the global debate on IP and Public Health by
Frederick Abbott, Issue Paper, No.24.
Access to climate Change Technology by Developing Countries by
Cynthia Cannady, Issue Paper No. 25
Broader policy question:
Should the IP system operate in a
business as usual mode when it comes
to climate change ?
Thank you
ICTSD Global Platform on Climate Change and
Trade Policies and Sustainable Energy
ICTSD Initiative on
Climate Technology
and Trade
[email protected]