Green Patent Policies & Initiatives: From CIPO to WIPO to Infinity

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There has been a flurry of activity on the green patent policy front in recent weeks, including a new green patent database, a green patent study, a green patent bank and a proposed new green patent fast track program.

First, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) recently launched the IPC Green Inventory, an on-line tool to facilitate searches for green patent data (see the WIPO press release here).

The inventory is linked to WIPO’s International Patent Classification system and contains around 200 topics relevant to “environmentally sound technologies.”  Those categories are based on a set of technological terms listed by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The goal is to aid interested parties in identifying emerging green technologies and potential partners for R&D and commercialization of these technologies.

Meanwhile, the European Patent Office (EPO) released the results of a global study on the emergence and distribution of clean energy technologies.  The study is entitled “Patents and clean energy: bridging the gap between evidence and policy.”

The patent-based analysis was a collaboration between EPO, the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development.

The study showed that six countries – Japan, the US, Germany, Korea, France and the UK – account for 80% of worldwide green patenting activity.

Interestingly, the study indicates that a surge of green patenting activity coincided with the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, suggesting a link between the climate change treaty and green tech development.

The study included a licensing component that found only limited licensing activity to developing countries, with the bulk of the activity in Brazil, India and China.  But the data indicates that IP rights are not a principal barrier to clean tech transfer.

In China, a private equity fund called Infinity Group has launched an IP Bank to fund the commercialization of green IP and clean technologies as well as technologies in other industries (see the IP Wire story here).

The bank, based in Suzhou, China, will allow ownership and licensing of IP in partnership with entrepreneurs and Chinese companies.

Finally, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) announced proposed amendments to the patent rules that would create an expedited examination program for green patent applications (see the CIPO press release here).

The proposed amendments would accelerate the prosecution of patent applications relating to environmental technologies by providing expedited examination upon submission of a request and a declaration by the applicant.

In particular, proposed new paragraph 28(1)(b) would provide that the Commissioner can advance a patent application out of turn on the request of:

(b)  the applicant, if the applicant files with the Commissioner a declaration indicating that the application relates to technology the commercialization of which would help to resolve or mitigate environmental impacts or to conserve the natural environment and resources.

Eric Lane is a patent attorney at Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at elane@luce.com.

About Author

Eric Lane is a patent and trademark attorney and the Principal at Green Patent Law in San Diego and the author of Green Patent Blog. Mr. Lane can be reached at (619) 818-6043 and at elane@greenpatentlaw.com.

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