Sharing Green Patents: Eco-Patent Commons & Green Xchange
This patent doesn't really have anything to do with green. I just thought it was funny (and scary).
No Need to Keep Re-Inventing the Green Wheel
Last year, guest posters from the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) wrote a post on TreeHugger about the creation of the Eco-Patent Commons. At the start they had 31 green patents that had been pledged by companies like IBM, Nokia, Pitney-Bowes and Sony. Today, that number has more than tripled with a 100 patents and new heavy-weight pledgers like Xerox, Dupont, Dow Chemical and Bosch.
If you're curious about what the patents are, you can see a complete list here with descriptions for each entry, and links to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Soon the Eco-Patent Commons won't be the only game in town, though. The NYT writes:
The Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that previously developed licensing programs to help in sharing creative and scientific content, is also planning to branch out into the environmental arena.
In collaboration with Nike and Best Buy, it plans to start a sharing initiative, the Green Xchange, in early 2010. The program will include both patented technologies and forums for continuing exchange of innovations such as Best Buy's system for rating the sustainability of a supply chain. Companies that contribute patents to the Green Xchange will have the option of charging users a fixed annual licensing fee and can also restrict any licensing by rivals or for competitive use. In addition, even if no annual fee is charged, patent users must register so there is a record of who is using what technology.
At fist, this might seem more restrictive than the Eco-Patent Commons, but the increased flexibility (companies are free to charge fees or not, and can put restrictions on uses) might mean that more companies will take part and that, in the end, more green patents will be widely used.