Intellectual Property Policies for Solar Geoengineering

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs): Climate Change (2018)

University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 248

7 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2018 Last revised: 28 Feb 2018

See all articles by Jesse L Reynolds

Jesse L Reynolds

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law; Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University School of Law

Jorge L. Contreras

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

Joshua D. Sarnoff

DePaul University College of Law

Date Written: February 2, 2018

Abstract

Governance of solar geoengineering is important and challenging, with particular concern arising from commercial actors’ involvement. Policies relating to intellectual property, including patents and trade secrets, and to data access will shape private actors’ behavior and regulate access to data and technologies. There has been little careful consideration of the possible roles of and interrelationships among commercial actors, intellectual property, and intellectual property policy. Despite the current low level of commercial activity and intellectual property rights in this domain, we expect both to grow as research and development continue. Given the public good nature of solar geoengineering, the relationship between the public and private sectors would likely assume a procurement structure. Innovative policy approaches to intellectual property and data access that are specific to solar geoengineering are warranted. These current circumstances also present opportunities for the development of policy and norms that might soon be lost. We consider some possible approaches, and recommend a bottom-up, primarily nonstate, voluntary “research commons” for patents and data that are related to solar geoengineering. This would facilitate information sharing and limit data fragmentation and trade secrecy. It would also provide an incentive for commons members to pledge to limit some forms of intellectual property acquisition and to assure access on reasonable terms, thereby limiting the need for enforcement. This should help reduce downstream barriers to innovation and to encourage the potential development of technologies at reasonable cost. Such a research commons might also catalyze the adoption of best practices in research and development.

Keywords: climate change, geoengineering, solar, patent, trade secret, commons

Suggested Citation

Reynolds, Jesse L and Contreras, Jorge L. and Sarnoff, Joshua D., Intellectual Property Policies for Solar Geoengineering (February 2, 2018). Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs): Climate Change (2018), University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 248, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3116959

Jesse L Reynolds

University of California, Los Angeles School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Utrecht University School of Law ( email )

3508 TC Utrecht
Utrecht
Netherlands

Jorge L. Contreras (Contact Author)

University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 S. University Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

Joshua D. Sarnoff

DePaul University College of Law ( email )

25 E. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL Cook County 60604-2287
United States
312-362-6326 (Phone)

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