Global Patent Pledges: A Collaborative Mechanism for Climate Change Technology

CIGI Papers No. 81

November 27, 2015

Technology lies at the centre of the climate change debate and plays a pivotal role in addressing the global challenge of climate change and sustainable development in today’s economy. Access to and timely diffusion of green technologies required for adaptation and mitigation are among the major challenges faced by the international community. The role of the patent system has become the subject of increased attention in climate change discussions on technology transfer. New mechanisms for collaborative innovation are required to foster the green technology sector.

This paper maintains that the simple existence of a patent on a green technology innovation is not a barrier in itself to the transfer of that technology. Much depends on how the exclusive rights that come with a patent are deployed, and how those rights can be used in transferring green technology. The paper examines the various forms of patent pledges related to green technology and their rationales by analyzing three main models of green patent pledges: Eco-Patent Commons, GreenXchange and Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). The paper concludes by suggesting a model legal framework for green patent pledges and calls for a global system to share green patents, governed by an international body where accession rules are open to third parties based on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.

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About the Author

Bassem Awad is a senior fellow and was previously the deputy director of International Intellectual Property Law and Innovation at CIGI.