Intellectual Ventures: Patent Law, Climate Change, and Geoengineering
Matthew Rimmer (Ed.) Intellectual Property and Clean Energy: The Paris Agreement and Climate Justice. Singapore: Springer, 2018, 235-271.
Posted: 10 Aug 2018 Last revised: 28 Oct 2018
Date Written: July 19, 2018
This chapter considers the role of patent law in respect of geoengineering. Intellectual Ventures has developed a large portfolio of patents in this area. A number of other private and public entities have also filed patents in the field of geoengineering. In light of the recent precedents of the Supreme Court of the United States in respect of Bilski, Prometheus, Myriad, and Alice, it is worth exploring the question, Should patents on geoengineering be allowed? Defenders of geoengineering would maintain that such technology is legitimate, much like traditional forms of engineering. Critics, such as the ETC Group, have called for a ban on patents in respect of geoengineering. There have been fierce debates over the ethics of geoengineering. Philosophers and policy-makers such as Stephen Gardiner, Clive Hamilton, Bill McKibben, Al Gore, and Naomi Klein have argued over the merits over such technologies. It is useful to situate such a discussion in the context of previous debates over intellectual property and emerging technologies - such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and clean technologies. Moreover, this chapter explores the potential for patent thickets in respect of geoengineering. What will be the impact of such patents on research, clean technologies, the environment, the climate? There has also been much concern about the possibility of overzealous enforcement of patents in respect of geoengineering. As such, it is worthwhile considering what policy options for patent abuse will be useful or effective in this field. There is a larger international debate over the governance and regulation of geoengineering – particularly in light of the Paris Agreement 2015.
Keywords: Intellectual Property, Climate Change, Geoengineering, Patent Law, Patentable Subject Matter, Patent Infringement, Patent Exceptions, Patent Law and Ethics
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