Michael Whitt comments in the Globe and Mail on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' call for global sharing of intellectual property (IP) to jump-start the renewable energy transition. Guterres made his remarks at the release of the World Meteorological Organization's State of the Global Climate 2021 Report.
Michael says, “There are unintended consequences to monkeying around with IP incentive programs. Just throwing everything out isn’t going to work. It may actually disincent innovation, or cause people to keep their patent that’s issued for whatever the invention is.”
The Globe and Mail writes there are workarounds, however, such as the use of standard-essential patents, where developers pool the intellectual property to be used as part of larger standard technology. This is employed frequently in the telecom industry, for instance. The developers can get royalty payments at a fair rate, rather than prevent the use of their products and services. That could be useful in a mass shift to renewables, Michael says.
At the launch of the Global Climate 2021 report, the Secretary-General proposed five critical actions to jump-start the renewable energy transition. "First, renewable energy technologies, such as battery storage, must be treated as essential and freely-available global public goods. Removing obstacles to knowledge sharing and technological transfer – including intellectual property constraints -- is crucial for a rapid and fair renewable energy transition."
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