Appeal to EU: Patents Inhibiting Knowledge Diffusion For Green Technology

An excerpt from IP Watch, from David Cronin:

“Paul David, a member of the Knowledge for Growth (K4G) group, which counsels the European Commission on industrial innovation, appealed to the EU and US not to resort to litigation over patents relating to ‘green’ technology such as that used in generating renewable energy.

Arguing that patents can “inhibit” the spread of equipment to developing countries that are most affected by water shortages and other symptoms of climate change, he said: “What we need is the freer moving of technology knowledge.”

David, also a professor of economics at Stanford University in California, predicted that the scientific community has a “window” of only fifteen years to develop technologies for addressing climate change if emissions of carbon dioxide are to be stabilised by the middle of this century. Such stabilisation will be necessary, he said, if an increase in the earth’s temperature of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels is to be averted.

Speaking at a Brussels conference on 25 June, David added: “We need to think seriously about global warming in the way that countries have previously thought about war.”

The K4G group was formed at the Commission’s behest in 2005 as part of its work towards the official objective of transforming the European Union into the world’s economic powerhouse by the end of this decade. Known as the ‘Lisbon strategy’, this goal was declared by EU governments at a summit in the Portuguese capital during 2000.

Luc Soete, director of the United Nations University-Maastricht Economic and Social Research and Training Centre on Innovation and Technology in the Netherlands, complained however that the Lisbon strategy has been too focused on “economic growth in a very narrow sense.”

Soete urged that the ‘Knowledge for Growth’ group should be transformed into a ‘knowledge for sustainable development’ one. Rather than examining how to perform better than competitors such as the US, it should study how knowledge and technology designed to reduce pollution can be spread in a way that best addresses the ecological woes besetting the planet, he suggested.

“We need to move away from the old obsession with technological competitiveness viewed through a very narrow framework,” he said. “The citizens in Europe, as well as those in the rest of the world, ultimately depend on knowledge diffusion.”

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