Patents to Climate Rescue: How intellectual property rights are fundamental to the development of renewable energy.
This is a brief overview of the role of patents in renewable energy technologies. It is designed to provide the reader with an introduction on the concept and importance of renewable energy production; the role patents are playing in the development of these technologies; a statistical snapshot of the patents trends and global output of renewable energy; various governmental policies; and case study highlights. With the latter showcasing how two successful companies have used their IP in this area from the perspective of a large company and an SME. This is the first introductory article which will delve into different aspects of the renewable technology sector and intellectual property.
Climate change is the most pressing global challenge and with the international commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris Agreement, there needs to be a global energy revolution and transition. This is where innovative technology can help meet the challenge of reducing our dependency on finite natural capital resources. The development and deployment of innovative technology play a pivotal role in enabling us to replace fossil fuel use with more sustainable energy solutions. Patents have facilitated the development of such innovative technologies thus far and will continue to be the catalyst for this transition.
Patents are among a group of intellectual property rights (‘IPRs’). These are private and exclusive rights given for the protection of different types of intellectual creations. IPRs are the cornerstone of developed and knowledge-based economies, as they encourage innovation, drive the investment into new areas and allow for the successful commercialisation of intellectual creations. IPRs are the cornerstone of developed and knowledge-based economies.
Empirical evidence has shown that a strong IPRs system influences both the development and diffusion of technology. Alternatively, weak IPRs protection has been shown to reduce innovation, reduce investment and prevent firms from entering certain markets.