Sharing Environmental Patents

The Eco-Patent Commons, launched by IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes, and Sony in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), was founded on the commitment that anyone who wants to bring environmental benefits to market can use these patents to protect the environment and enable collaboration between businesses that foster new innovations. The objectives of the Eco-Patent Commons are:

  • To provide an avenue by which innovations and solutions may be easily shared to accelerate and facilitate implementation to protect the environment and perhaps lead to further innovation.

  • To promote and encourage cooperation and collaboration between businesses that pledge patents and potential users to foster further joint innovations and the advancement and development of solutions that benefit the environment.

Since the launch of the Eco-Patent Commons in January 2008, one hundred eco-friendly patents have been pledged by eleven companies representing a variety of industries worldwide: Bosch, Dow, DuPont, Fuji-Xerox, IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes, Ricoh, Sony, Taisei, and Xerox.

For example, DuPont has shared a method for better detecting pollution in soil, air, or water by using a microorganism that produces light when exposed to a pollutant.

Another environmental licensing initiative is also in the works: Creative Commons, the non-profit developed to share creative and scientific content, is collaborating with Nike and Best Buy to create Green Xchange, which will include options for charging users annual fees and restricting competitive use of patented technologies.

Read more about patent commons in the New York Times.