Eco Patents Commons

A higher level of environmental consciousness pervaded the talks at the recently concluded World Economic Summit at Davos. Environment related issues and green friendly initiatives occupied a key place on the agenda.

In tandem, tone and tenor :

Corporate Titans in a spirit of environmental camaraderie have collaborated on a novel project that allows access to eco- patents while striking a balance between the twin task of fostering innovation and promoting social development….long held as irreconcilable dichotomies.

Called the Eco Patents Commons, the initiative is modeled on the lines of a ‘open source platform’ that allows the patent holder to pledge the patents and put it out in the public domain free of charge. Access and benefit sharing work as the operative words here.

Sharing knowledge and technology that protect the environment is one way to address a wide range of challenges and threats to our planet. One vital way to share such knowledge and technology is through making patented technology available. Yet, to date, there has been no organized effort to make patents available, without royalty, to help enable the world community to reduce waste, pollution, global warming, and energy demands.

Frumpy skepticism that patents stifle innovation and are inimical in a development country perspective could take cues from this model.

IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowles and Sony, in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), have compiled a portfolio of patents — the Eco-Patent Commons — that can be used in manufacturing and business processes.

Companies can pledge patents that save energy and water, reduce the production of hazardous waste, increase recycling or reduce the amount of material used in a process.

The organizers hope that the scheme will encourage researchers and industry to create, use and develop processes in an environmentally responsible way.

Weyerhaeuser says that the scheme was designed with the needs of developing countries in mind — though not uniquely so. “Intellectual property rights are mentioned often as a barrier to technology transfer. The commons will help with that issue.”

For those you with more queries on how this works and are perhaps pondering on how to emulate this model for the Indian climate….heres an interesting list of FAQs’

A healthy departure from the oft resorted to ‘evergreening’ drive and intent…..


  1. AvatarAysha Shaukat

    Prof.Gopalakrishnan Nair,in an email messsage writes:

    This is just unbelievable !
    At the last Annual event of Patent Gurukul,Mr.T. C. James,Director ,IP, Govt of India spoke of Consumer Commons & the potential
    for extension to Patent Commons.
    We did argue on this evolving as a Practical model being long time away in future.
    Lo ! It is already dawned !
    This further re-inforces my (& may be others) thinking & belief that entry of 3rd World countries like India into the new IPregime through TRIPs , has helped to usher in a semblance of fairness & equity in the Global Patent Scenario after decades of abuse & exploitation beyond the Statute
    > Provisions.
    > A million thanks to Ayeshaji for the “commonly” uncommon NEWS !

  2. AvatarAysha Shaukat

    Girish Malhotra writes:

    Donating patents is a noble idea but I am a skeptic. I am not questioning The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) intent.

    However, had these patents been of commercial value, I doubt they be donated to competitors. It is not a normal business practice. This is against the fundamental tenets of companies whose basic intent is to make profit for their stakeholders. Donating also might make an economic sense to the companies, as they have to pay a good amount of money in various countries to maintain them during the remaining life of the patent. I had a quick look at the patents and I am not sure any of them have any economic value to any one except for an economic value (tax write-off) to the companies. Out of these 31 patents, some one has to show me which ones “reduce waste, pollution, global warming, and energy demands.”

  3. AvatarAysha Shaukat

    Thanks Mr. Girish…..This appears to be model that is primarily aimed at discharging ones corporate social responsibility.If that be, then the bottom line motive is not the prime consideration here.

    What appears interesting and novel is the application of the IPR in a creative manner that fosters socio-economics.

    Another instance of creative capitalism…I have done an earlier post on that on spicyip.


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