Patents and Climate Change Mitigation Technologies

The contribution of (eco-) patents
and patent information
to the dissemination
of sustainable technologies
Ged Owens
Coordinator, Public Policy Issues
Int. Organisations, Trilateral and IP5 | Dir. 5.2.4
28 May 2013
• The Global Patent System
and Climate Change Mitigation Technologies
• EPO's Patent Information services
– "Espacenet" (
– EPO's specially developed Y02 classification scheme for
climate change mitigation technology
• Key results of studies on patenting
of clean energy technology
• Patents and Standards
Objectives of the global patent system
To support innovation by :
• enabling technology developers to protect their investments;
• promote the dissemination of technical information by legally
obliging inventors to publicise their inventions;
• allowing research and development activities to build upon existing
• establishing a framework for technology transfer, both locally and
globally through licensing.
European Patent Organisation
- Quality patents for Europe — and beyond ?
 38 member states
 Extension agreements for 2 states
 4000 patent examiners
 40 years of EPO - originally only 7 member
 EPO - largest PCT search authority (40%)
for up to 146 contracting states in PCT
 Quality patents - only granting temporary
exclusive rights via patents for genuine
technical inventions
 Approx. half of all patent applications at
EPO are refused or withdrawn
 The scope of protection of those granted
mostly reduced during examination
Patents and Climate Change Mitigation Technologies
Climate Change Mitigation Technologies (CCMTs):
– Human intervention to reduce the sources or enhance the sinks of
greenhouse gases (UN definition).
Enormous political and social interest for these technologies
– from international agencies, NGOs, private enterprises...
Enormous investments.
– from private sector, venture capitalists, governments.
CCMTs not the same as "clean technologies":
– Focuses on greenhouse gases.
– Not necessarily "clean" in other aspects (for example nuclear
UNEP - EPO - ICTSD: Patents and CCMTs
Patent rights subject of much discussion in climate change debate
• Rio conference 1992; Rio "plus 20" conference in 2012
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
Division of Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC)
– international environmental law, governance and policy.
– supports governments for environmental challenges
European Patent Office (EPO)
– one process for patent protection in up to 40 European countries.
– "patent information" - publication of patent documentation
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
• advances trade policy that supports sustainable development
• a leading broker of knowledge and information for above
Patents and Climate Change Mitigation Technologies (CCMT)
Global patent system
• Legal protection for inventions in exchange for disclosure
EPO Patent Information system
• 88 mio. patent documents available worldwide
via the internet, free of charge
• EPO's Y02 classification "tagging" of climate change relevant technologies
CCMT Patent applications 1980 - 2011
• 1,5 mio. patent applications relating to CC Mitigation Technology
Searching for patent documents: classification
Patent Information system
• EPO database "Espacenet"
• 88.000.000 patent documents
• free of charge on internet
Search on keywords and classification
• International Patent Classification (IPC)
– @ 70.000 entries
• Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC)
– @ 240.000 entries
Y02 classification scheme:
– dedicated to Climate Change
Mitigation Technologies
How it works
•"Y02" tagging scheme is complementary to the existing
•Includes around 1000 classification entries and nearly 1 500 000
•It provides easy access to the general public on patenting in climate
change mitigation technologies
 Y02C: Greenhouse gases – capture or
storage/sequestration or disposal
 Y02E: Greenhouse gases – emissions reduction
technologies related to energy generation, transmission or
 Y02B: Buildings - Climate change mitigation technologies
in buildings, including the residential sector
 Y02T: Transport - Climate change mitigation technologies
in the transportation of goods and persons
 Y04S: Smart Grids technologies - Remote network
operation, smart metering, electric and hybrid vehicles
interoperability, trading and marketing
Example CO2 capture and storage (classical)
cumbersome, difficult
Example: CO2 capture and storage
Y02C Tag gives overview of all relevant technologies
Patent landscaping studies
Carried out in conjunction with United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
and International Centre for Sustainable Trade and Development (ICTSD)
Rio conference 1992 and Rio +20 (2012)
– "Patent rights barrier to technology transfer of CCMT to developing
Providing evidence on which to form policy
– using Y02 classification scheme, and PATSTAT - EPO's patent statistics tool
Key results (Global landscape 2010; Africa 2013):
– CCMT developed primarily by USA, Germany, France, UK, Japan, Korea (PV
– Continually increasing activity throughout period
– Sharp increase in activity after Kyoto protocol - policy works !
– Less than 1% of CCMT patent applications filed in Africa
Available on EPO website :
Results of survey on licensing of CCMT
Important factors for licensing / technology transfer stated as:
• Access to real know-how from source companies (often "Trade
• Suitably skilled staff
• Scientific infrastructure
• Favourable market conditions
• Finance
• Patent rights as framework for technology transfer
– only one amongst many factors
• Patent right holders are generally willing to license, and mostly
would give preferential terms to enterprises in developing countries
Y04S: Smart Grids - Patents and standards
• analysis of standards: IEEE-SA 2030 and IEC
•external experts: cooperation with IEEE-SA P2030 WG
•90 codes, divided over...
Worldwide trends in Smart Grid patenting
Yearly filings (relative to the year 2000)
Smart grid patents
total patents
Approximately 6500 patent families related to Smart Grids
Patents and standards
Mostly set by industry
Perceived by public to be for the
public good.
In a technically interlinked world,
their nature is potentially global.
Accessibility and ownership issues
increasingly debated
Patents :
Temporary exclusive rights
Can be used to exclude others from
use of the technology, or license
Embedded in standards, they offer
their owners a 'double competitive
Territorial nature
Exclusively owned technologies embodied in standards - rules of
inclusion and use must be clear:
Licensing on FRAND terms - Fair, Reasonable And NonDiscriminatory - reasonable terms, and to all
How to optimise the interaction of patents and
standards !
Important if latest technology is to be included in standards !
– Latest and best technology increasingly patented
Patent applications must be filed before inventions are disclosed in
standards development process
EPO includes standards-related documentation in "prior art" searches
– prevents granting of patents for already disclosed inventions
Patent applicants must declare Standards Essential Patents (SEPs) and SDOs should list these on public databases
Patent rights licensed to all parties on FRAND terms
– Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory
EPO measures:
Increased awareness (at highest level)
Technology watch in this particular field (resource planning)
Ensure :
1. Documentation (1 million standards related documents:
used as prior art )
2. Legal clarity - when Standards are valid prior art
3. Examination measures:
◦ additional training
◦ early warning systems for “suspicious cases”
◦ systematic links with technical committees of SDOs etc.
Patents and standards work !
Telecommunications and smart phones
– enormously successful industry !
– billions of Euros
– 10.000+ Standard Essential Patents
– some court cases - but not unusual considering market value
Key element - licensing Standard Essential Patents on FRAND terms
– Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory
ETSI - European Telecommunications Standards Institute
– EPO's leading partner since 2006
– Memorandum of Understanding since 2009
– Also ITU, IEEE-SA, IEC and smaller standards organisations
– Cooperation starting with CEN-CENELEC
Increasingly important in wider areas - Smart Grids, smart cities, smart
transport, smart buildings ....
– Many areas important for sustainable development !
Further Information
The UNEP/EPO/ICTSD studies available at:
E-Learning module on Y02 (Climate Change):
Use Y02 in esp@cenet:
PATSTAT - Patent Statistics and landscaping tool
Global patent system supports innovation and dissemination of
For licensing / technology transfer, patent rights one of many factors
EPO's Patent Information services make technical information
available worldwide, free-of charge from 88 million patent documents
1,5 million related to Climate Change Mitigation Technology
Patents and Standards can provide synergy
– Cooperation between IPOs and SDOs ongoing
– increasingly important for sustainable technologies
– Ged Owens:
– Victor Veefkind:
Supplementary slides - for information only
Example: Solar Updraft Tower (Solar Chimney)
Example: Solar Updraft Tower
• Different facets of the
same technology
• Too much Noise in
• Possible conflict with
solar tower
EPO Patent Information Services
Espacenet, 88 million patent documents, free-of-charge:
Combine with Y02 Classification Scheme for CCMT
Example (country level) using EPO's Espacenet :
We want to figure out which "Clean energy" applications are filed in Egypt
"Clean energy" applications filed in Egypt - I
"Clean energy" applications filed in Egypt - II
"Clean energy" applications filed in Egypt - III
"Clean energy" applications filed in Egypt - IV
20 results in 2012
"Clean energy" applications filed in Egypt - V
"Clean energy" applications filed in Egypt - VI
Example (country level): Y02E