Industry Groups Launch Effort On ‘Green Tech’ IP Rights

A coalition backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, General Electric, Microsoft, Siemens and other multinational firms is pressing the Obama administration and key lawmakers as trade negotiators prepare for U.N. climate-change talks this summer. The initial focus of the Innovation, Development and Employment Alliance, which was officially launched today, is protecting the patents of green technology manufacturers, who fear countries like Brazil, China and India will push for compulsory licensing carve-outs for alternative energy innovations. A series of meetings begin next month and will lead up to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December, where parties will seek agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On Capitol Hill, Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Evan Bayh, D-Ind., have championed IDEA’s effort, GE Chief IP Counsel Carl Horton said. Hatch and Bayh were integral in getting domestic IP enforcement legislation signed into law last year, and business interests hope this issue will have the same momentum. The group is trying to cultivate support from labor unions, but so far none have signed on as members. Hatch and Bayh are circulating a “Dear Colleague” to be sent to President Obama that argues for strengthening green IP rights. The U.S. government “cannot afford to sit idle while others seek to weaken IP protections,” the letter states. “America must … be willing to confront those countries and organizations that attempt to weaken IP rights.”

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