Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How Green Should Patents in China Be? Poisonous Green

9 articles to go: IP Dragon on its way to its 1000th article

If you live in China, you will easily see one of its biggest problems: pollution. In China car manufacturers claim that they are unable to produce low-cost hybrid cars because of a small number of companies that have patented key components, writes Mauricio Bauermann Guaragna in a very interesting article for ISIS, a research centre of the Sauder School of Business of the University of British Columbia, see here.

Bauermann Garagna's writes that although patents give incentives to new technology, they also stifle competition. [Research is inconclusive whether patents have a positive or negative net effect on innovation; it also depends on which developmental stage a country is in and for which industry]. The European Patent Office imagined the following two scenarios for the patent system in 2025: 1. Because of a pandemic and following mass protests the patent system over health technology will be abolished, leading to direct government and prize systems. 2. An open source system for green technologies, software, energy and biotech will be developed.
Another scenario is a portfolio of patents that can be used by the world: World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) initiated the Eco-Patent Commons, on a voluntary basis.

IP Dragon's take: All these methods will help. But the problem is bigger than people see at the moment. Most pollution does not kill directly, hence there is no sense of urgency. And people get used to near everything, polluted air, water and food in China is already not extraordinary anymore. But if you would add the lives that will be destroyed each year the coming decades, you will end up with more victims of pollution than a pandemic, terrorist attack and the biggest Tsunami can cause together. So you could at least argue that drastic measures are needed in the public interest. China's demand for energy is still growing and so is its pollution. Therefore China needs clean energy and it needs it rapidly. If the claim of the Chinese car industry is valid and the other patent solutions do not work, article 49 Chinese Patent Law 2008 should be seriously considered: "Where a national emergency or an extraordinary state of affairs occurs, or where the public interest so requires, the patent adminstrative department under the State Council may grant a compulsory license to exploit the patent for invention or utility model."

Picture: Danny Friedmann

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