Rise of “Greentech”- Role of Patents & Patent Laws
Clean renewable energy has become significantly important world over. The world has witnessed a tremendous increase in global markets for solar photovoltaic, wind power, and biofuels that grew at a 30% in 2011, to a combined total market size of $246B. Electricity that is generated from renewable energy sources is often referred to as “green power” and it uses energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass for its generation. Green power products include electricity generated exclusively from renewable resources or, more frequently, electricity produced from a combination of fossil and renewable resources.
Some Interesting Greentech Patents (or Applications) Published in 2013 –
• US 20130224841 A1 entitled “Method for establishing synergism between renewable energy production and fossil energy production” The renewable energy is from the cultivation of microalgae and the extraction of its oil content, production of methane, and coincidentally-produced oxygen.
• WO 2013072709 A2 entitled “Solar thermal hydro-electric power plant for simultaneously energy and drinking water production“ for the simultaneous production of energy and drinking water.
• US 20130264279 A1 entitled “Renewable energy micro-generation system” that comprises of one or more portable containers that has many small holding tanks configured to perform at least one of pasteurization and thermophilic anaerobic digestion on waste, a large holding tank that is configured to perform mesophilic anaerobic digestion on the waste and a de-watering unit configured to dry what remains of the waste after mesophilic anaerobic digestion is performed.
• CA 2769079 A1 entitled “Standalone alternative energy generator“ is a portable electricity generator. The unit combines solar and wind generating abilities into one ensemble equipped with a battery and an inverter. The unit presents a usable 110v outlet to the consumer or can be tied into the consumer’s household grid via an enclosed AC inverter. The solar panel and wind generator charge the battery which can then be used to power electrical equipment.
• US 20130257049 A1 entitled “Renewable energy extraction device tolerant of grid failures. It includes a turbine driving a hydraulic pump and a variable displacement hydraulic motor driving an electrical generator connected directly to an electricity grid.
Rise of Greentech- Role of Patents & Patent Laws
Patents for renewable energy inventions are rising sharply, in the U.S. and around the world. If we consider the US data alone, it has been revealed in a USPTO press release that 1062 patents have been issued in this sector since 2012. The positive growth in patenting for green innovations is attributable to-
• The significant decrease in the examination time since the Green Technology Pilot Program was started by USPTO (in 2009) led to an increase in grant of green patents.
• Private and federal investments into renewable energy research.
• Universities, companies, and the government are increasing incentives for this growing area of research
• A robust patent system that not only perpetuates (or incentivize) more inventions in an ongoing cycle of innovation, in addition, provides an incentive for investment as well.
A patent right (or IP right) is an exclusive right that is freely exchangeable. It can be bartered, sold, exchanged, or licensed. Thus, patents provide investors with a defined asset that can have tremendous value to another investor or a larger company and even enables them to obtain market dominance in a particular technology area. When a technology becomes popular, patent rights surrounding the technology allow the owner of the right to charge consumers more for the products or services covered by the patent, thereby significantly enhancing its value. Later, as the technology matures, key players can still benefit from their patents and grow their market share. At this stage, the patent right can be asserted in litigation, or threatened litigation, to prevent competitors from selling competing products when those products are covered by the patent right. Patent owners can also force competitors to pay royalties for use of their patent right.
Thus, there is no undermining the value of green patents, In fact, companies in this domain must not only scale up their R&D efforts but also invest in identifying white spaces and gaps in the green technology areas via state-of-the-art searches. Keeping a track of green innovations by seeking technology watch services would, in fact, also be a sound investment.
In the pursuit of encouraging green technology, role of patent system is critical. Robust patent protection for greentech will not only lead to increased private investment but will also create green jobs, and the result will be enhancement of ongoing progress of green technology that will ensure profitability and pave path for growth of enticing markets where a wide variety of useful and economically priced green products will be available.