Clean Tech IP is Here to Stay…and Grow

By Joseph Mandour on April 10, 2011

wind-turbine-thumb-200x133-33976 California – What is the tie that binds the following eleven threads?

1) Energy generation (wind, hydro, solar, geothermal, biofuels), 2) energy storage (batteries, fuel cells), 3) energy infrastructure, 4) energy efficiency, 5) transportation, 6) water & wastewater (conservation, treatment), 7) air & environment (clean-up, monitoring, offsets and trading), 8) materials (chemical, bio, nano), 9) manufacturing/industrial (smart production), 10) agriculture (natural pesticides, land management, aquaculture) and 11) recycling & waste management.

The answer is that substantial portions of each fall under the “clean tech” umbrella. Clean tech, then, spans many diverse industry segments. However, this diversity is unified by a clear set of overarching goals: 1) provide superior performance at lower costs, while 2) greatly reducing or eliminating negative ecological impact, at the same time as 3) improving the productive and responsible use of natural resources. (See http://cleantech.com/about/cleantechdefinition.cfm).

Fortunately Eric L. Lane, a patent attorney in San Diego, has done an excellent job of synthesizing the legal implications of this growing area of IP and presenting it to us in the form of a highly literate and pleasantly readable book. The book is entitled “Clean Tech Intellectual Property: Eco-marks, Green Patents, and Green Innovation” and is published by the Oxford University Press (2011). (http://www.amazon.com/Clean-Tech-Intellectual-Property-Innovation/dp/product-description/0199737096).

Mr. Lane’s book presents clean tech IP as an important area of law and policy seeking to foster innovation in order to improve the environment and curb global warming. In it, he treats green intellectual property as a discrete field set apart from the general realm of intellectual property law, and offers 260 pages of arguments and evidence beckoning us to join him in his belief that it is worthy of study, practice and expertise in its own right.

Section one of the book presents strategies for drafting and prosecuting clean tech patent applications, building green patent portfolios and clean tech transfer and licensing. Section two covers clean tech and the courts. Topics include “Green Patent Litigation Past, Present, and Future” as well as non-practicing patentees (NPP’s) in the clean tech world. Green branding, greenwashing and eco-mark enforcement are covered in section three. Section four, the final section, is devoted to green patent policies and initiatives and concludes with the debate over IP rights in low-income developing countries. All sections include analyses of relevant cases and lessons learned.

In the end, “Clean Tech Intellectual Property: Eco-marks, Green Patents, and Green Innovation” is the first comprehensive review of intellectual property and clean technology. It relies upon industry trends, legal developments and case studies to analyze the dynamic interplay between clean technologies and intellectual property regimes: 1) how IP law affects clean tech growth and 2) how green business models shape IP practice. If Mr. Lane is correct, as we and the fellowship of kindred minds suspect he is, then this first book will not be the last. Clean tech really is here to stay…and grow.

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Posted in: Patent Registration