New Classification Scheme For Clean Energy Patents To Facilitate Technology Transfer 02/12/2009 by Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch 1 Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Technology transfer is essential to the mitigation of climate change but empirical data on the subject is scarce, according to panellists at a parallel event to this week’s World Trade Organization ministerial meeting. An initiative has been launched by the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) to identify potential barriers to the transfer of clean technologies. Preliminary outcomes of the project were presented yesterday. One of those outcomes is a new classification scheme. ICTSD is holding a Trade and Development Symposium in parallel with the WTO ministerial from 30 November to 2 December. Technology transfer is at the heart of the climate change negotiations but the polarised vision of intellectual property as either a barrier to technology transfer or an essential prerequisite for innovation and the promotion of technology transfer is a simplistic vision that does not capture the complexity of the issue, said Ahmed Abdel Latif, programme manager for intellectual property at ICTSD. A wide range of proposals have been made in the negotiating text of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said Abdel Latif, such as promoting the transfer of technologies in the public domain, facilitating technology licensing, building capacities for environmentally sound technologies, or the use of the WTO Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement flexibilities. However, empirical data and analysis on transfer of climate change technology is both limited and recent, Abdel Latif said. Technology transfer is a complex and multidimensional process and depends on many factors such as finance or the local absorptive capacity. Intellectual property rights also have an impact on cost of technology acquisition and rate of technology diffusion. The role of intellectual property rights also varies according to technologies and sectors, he added. Clean Tech Patent Landscape In 2008, ICTSD launched an initiative on climate change technology and trade to examine gaps and priorities, and identify potential obstacles to the promotion of clean energy technology transfer, he said, and to provide an evidence-based approach in the area of IP rights in climate change. This initiative was built on a partnership with ICTSD, the European Patent Office (EPO) and the United Nations Environment Programme. The partnership was announced in April 2009. A patent landscape of clean technologies and technology mapping are part of the project, as well as a survey of licensing practices. The EPO has an observer status to the UNFCCC, said Nikolaus Thumm, chief economist at the EPO. Clarification is needed on where IP rights are a barrier to technology transfer and where they are not, he said. The issues at stake that are considered in the project are the general use of patents, access to technologies, licensing, and technology transfer, said Thumm, adding that one of the project objectives is to look into the relationship between patents and the development and transfer of clean energy technologies. No specific position in the negotiations is taken by the EPO, he said, and the patent office would like to help the process of evidence-based policymaking. The first phase of the project was a technology mapping, said Abdel Latif, identifying the technologies. The technology mapping focused on energy, buildings, transport and industry, and will be extended to other sectors, he said. Patent landscaping is highly complex, said Konstantinos Karachalios, scenarios analyst at the EPO. The international patent classification [corrected] is administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization, but no system exists in certain key technology fields, he said. The EPO identified experts in the relevant technologies, identified the technologies and relevant classification entries and after a tagging process, came up with a new classification scheme covering all technologies, in what Karachalios qualified as the “most interesting outcome of this project.” The classification scheme will be made available publicly in 2010, he said, adding that the EPO used the momentum to “introduce a process for the formal indexing for the concerned technological fields.” There is a shift from keyword searches to systematically indexing that will enable continuous updating of the system, and the data will include worldwide patent documents. The system could be shared with any interested patent office because the system is not dependent on the EPO internal classification, Karachalios said. Among the preliminary findings of this initiative whose results should be published in 2010, political decisions might have an influence, such as a surge in patenting activities since the Kyoto Protocol. A licensing survey also was carried out, said Thumm, for which 160 questionnaires were received. The preliminary findings of this survey were that “a large number of respondents have not entered into agreements with licensees based in developing countries and the main beneficiaries of licensing or other forms of IP rights commercialisation in the field of sustainable energy technologies were the fast-growing developing economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India and China.” The full report of the survey should be released in spring 2010. IP and TRIPS-related issues and the state of play of patenting of green technology is a policy concern for climate change negotiators, said Antony Taubman, director of the IP Division at the WTO. Framing relevant technology clusters is a critical issue and because of the volatile characteristics of the technology, there will be a continuing classification issue, he said. The rate of technology diffusion or the level of licensing activity is more important, said Ahmed Latif, than the question of whether or not IP is a barrier to technology transfer. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Catherine Saez may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org."New Classification Scheme For Clean Energy Patents To Facilitate Technology Transfer" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.