Kirk Opposes Push to Ease Patent Protections in Climate Talks


U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said he opposes efforts by countries such as China and Brazil to ease patent protection for energy-efficient technologies as part of global negotiations to fight global warming.

“The general principle applies: The cost of innovating and research and development needs to be monetized,” Kirk told reporters after speaking to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today.

Developing nations, which get exemptions from patent protections on some medicines, want to extend the freedoms to wind and solar energy products. Kirk’s remarks in support of the U.S. industry today were the first public comments from the Obama administration on the issue.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and companies including General Electric Co. have said that weakening those protections may reduce research in those products because rewards for innovations would be decreased.

Companies such as windmill-maker General Electric or hybrid-car manufacturer Toyota Motor Corp. may be forced to give free access to patents or seek compensation elsewhere when their inventions are used by the nations to avoid greenhouse-gas emissions, under recommendations by the United Nations and proposals from China and other developing nations.

The UN has set a December deadline for a new treaty to stem global warming that is set to be signed in Copenhagen.

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