In 2009 the UK Intellectual Property Office introduced a “Green Channel” for fast-tracking patent applications relating to inventions that have environmental benefit. After an initial uptake, the indications are that the level of activity has reached a steady-state. Meanwhile, in 2012 the European Patent Office introduced a scheme for searching the patent literature for sustainable technologies, and in particular climate change mitigating technologies (CCMT). Unfortunately, by several measures, the patent data shows a worrying decline in activity since 2012 everywhere except in China.
Patents are important for underpinning investment in technology, and CCMT and environmentally beneficial technologies are no exception. The European Commission has announced a €10 billion innovation fund for demonstration of innovative low-carbon and carbon capture technologies, with the first call for proposals to be in 2020. It will take time for this to flow through to inventions that will show up in the data.
The challenges of climate change will require innovative solutions. So far the patent filing data does not seem to indicate that industry is rising to this challenge. This presentation will set out the data and test this hypothesis.
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