Global Intellectual Property Center

Universities against third world proposal

Universities against third world proposal

COP-15 has poor countries seeking to unlock intellectual property rights on climate innovations.

Developing countries, including China and India, have a proposal on the table at the Copenhagen climate change conference COP-15 that will liberalise global intellectual property rights for new innovations designed to reduce carbon emissions: This is according to universityworldnews.com.

The 77 governments behind the proposal hope that green technology can be subject to ‘compulsory licensing’ in the same way as generic medicines, so that it can be produced cheaply in poorer countries, without infringing intellectual property rights.

Critics from universities around the world are concerned that green innovation may be stifled if the proposal is passed.

Should be like medicine

John Vaughn, Executive Vice-president for the Association of American Universities, says he hopes the same compromises made for medicine can be applied to the climate crisis:

If the proposal is just to say intellectual property rights and patents don’t apply for certain technologies, that would be a problem. Universities should find ways to amend (intellectual property rights, ed.) in certain cases,« he says.

In October, a Geneva and Washington-based association the Coalition for Innovation, Employment and Development released a study warning that weakening intellectual property rights in green technology could dampen innovation in Europe and lead to job losses, the University World News writes.

Want earmarked green funds instead

Intellectual property rights are necessary for EU firms to undertake investment in research and development of clean technology. As with any investment, if the risk on returns increases, a firm will tend to invest less. This could seriously increase compliance in reaching [green house gas] reduction targets and reduce the opportunities for job creation in the EU,« the association wrote then.

The association suggests instead that developed countries should transfer financial funds to poorer nations for the purchase of green technology.