In the run-up to the Copenhagen negotiations, accelerated technology transfer is seen as one of the key drivers for a globally successful decarbonisation strategy. It has become increasingly accepted that adoption and diffusion of technologies in developing countries crucially depends on creating a suitable enabling environment. Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) play a key role in determining the channels and terms of such technology transfer. In this paper we take a fact-based approach by exploring how in practice industries have dealt with IPRs, and explore the linkage between different IPR strategies with broader industry business models that have worked well in stimulating innovation and technology diffusion in other industries. The paper focuses on how other industries have used co-operative IPR arrangements such cross-licensing, patent pooling and technology standards agreements that are (a) backed by IPRs owned by companies, and (b) result in open (but not necessarily free) access to such IPRs by companies that are not part of the initial agreement (i.e. it is not a â€˜closed clubâ€™). Co-operative IPR arrangements have occurred in areas as diverse as aircraft manufacturing, semi-conductors, mobile telecommunications and electricity metering: industries that have seen significant rates of growth in innovation and technology diffusion, as well as a high-level of patenting activity.
The paper provides an overview of the diverse strategic uses of IP by private sector actors followed by a summary of key factors that may be used to identify industries which are â€˜ripeâ€™ for cross-licensing, patent pool or co-operative standard setting. This is demonstrated by two case studies of standards management bodies, showing how in practice a co-operative technology standard may emerge, with different levels of engagement of the public sector. A remaining question is whether additional public intervention might be warranted to facilitate or accelerate the development of IP pools and open access to industry standards. This might be of relevance for the global advancement of low-carbon technologies but even more so for the adoption and diffusion in developing countries.
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