Global Intellectual Property Center

Will Energy Ideas Be Private Or Public?

Will Energy Ideas Be Private Or Public?

The United States Chamber of Commerce, a leading lobby representing businesses, is expressing growing concern that moves to spread new energy technologies to developing countries could erode the intellectual property rights that have driven commercial efforts to innovate for generations. On Wednesday, that group and representatives of General Electric, Microsoft and Sunrise Solar gathered in Washington to launch the Innovation, Development & Employment Alliance, or I.D.E.A. The initiative is aimed at pressing Congress and the Obama administration to ensure that global climate-treaty talks don’t weaken protections on who can profit from new technologies that provide abundant energy without abundant pollution. You can sift for hints of such issues in the latest United Nations discussion draft of a potential climate agreement.

This issue came up in a recent question-and-answer session by Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, in which he proposed that – at least on vital large-scale technologies like systems for capturing and storing carbon dioxide – intellectual property rights issues might best be dropped to foster international cooperation. That didn’t go over well at the time with a top official from General Electric.