One of these brilliant depends on the way the world manages the creation and ownership of inventions and ideas. A protectionist approach to intellectual property is designed to protect and prolong the lifecycle of existing technologies, and enable New Inventions to capture the earnings using their creations. In a paper published with colleagues from universities in Germany and India, we examined how this also can make it more difficult for new and much more sustainable technologies to get developed and adopted. That explains why now there are other approaches being used to move key sectors to more sustainable systems and end this status quo.
Electric car manufacturer Tesla, has been doing that. Tesla CEO Elon Musk “shocked” the planet in 2014 when he announced that his company was joining the open source movement and handing out its patents at no cost. It is essential to be aware of the rationale here. Why would a business who had worked so desperately to build up and protect its technology from its global car manufacturer competitors suddenly give its technology away free of charge?
Tesla initially designed a patent portfolio to protect its technology. However, Tesla’s concern that it would be overwhelmed once established car makers ramped up their production of electric cars never arrived at pass. Instead, it saw the electric car market stagnate at under 1% of total vehicle sales. So Tesla changed its strategy from trying to prevent others from building electric cars to seeking to encourage them to the market.
Part of the reasoning here is that if more electric cars are built, then more battery recharging stations will likely be built too. This would make electric cars become more visible, as well as a more conventional choice. Tesla believes that the open intellectual property strategy can strengthen as opposed to diminish its position by building how big the electrical car market, and as a result, build its own share from the total automotive market.
This type of careful handling of intellectual property at company level, backed up by policy-level awareness, can be a powerful way to keep the same forms of transitions to more sustainable technologies in other industries too.
Energy supply faces an array of difficulties: the depletion of natural resources; air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; nuclear risks; and security of supply. This type of water supply sector is fixed by Product Patent, pollutants, extreme environmental events like flooding and costs associated with supplying water to communities in poor countries and remote communities. The agri-food sector, meanwhile, is under pressure to sustainably produce more food and also to address malnutrition in poor countries.
For these particular industries to navigate a path around these problems, new knowledge and the innovations that follow will likely be essential. As well as in knowledge economies, intellectual property can either be an enabler or even an inhibitor.
In the event the ownership of intellectual property is fragmented in an industry, it could slow down technology innovation and uptake, such as in the electronics industry where multiple players own complementary patents. However, firms can instead start their innovation processes and move away from jealously guarded, internal cultures, where intellectual property is used to protect and prolong lifecycles. This transformation may see knowledge sharing leading to accelerated innovation cycles and a vyltsm rapid uptake of sustainable alternatives throughout a sector: precisely what Tesla was longing for in electric vehicles.
This approach to intellectual property, so-called “open IP”, is well advanced and mature within the software industry and healthcare. It provides given access to life-saving medicines to huge numbers of people, especially in developing countries through patent pools, such as the Medicine Patent Pool. This kind of project relies on New Invention Idea sharing their intellectual property, but small companies may also play a strategic roles in creating these new, more sustainable systems, and it’s not all about open IP.