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Green Tech

Sustainable technology challenges

A new study by the European Patent Office and the United Nations Environment Programme, examines the potential for renewable energy and the role of the patent system in Latin America and the Caribbean in supporting innovation in green technologies, and found that there was considerable untapped potential in both.

Technology innovation and dissemination have a crucial role to play role in tackling the climate change challenge. Enhancing technology transfer has been an integral part of the global climate change regime since the inception of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Chang

Against this background, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the European Patent Office (EPO) and the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) worked together on a series of empirical studies on the role of patents in the development and dissemination of climate change mitigation technologies (CCMT).

Few patents filed in sustainable technologies in developing countries

The first study on patents and clean energy technologies (CETs), published in 2010, found that inventive activity between 1980 and 2007 was dominated by six OECD countries, namely Japan, the US, Germany, Korea, France and the UK, accounting for 80 percent of all patent applications in the CETs worldwide. The six countries also presented the primary markets for patent protection of CETs.

A second study, published in 2013 and focussing on patents and CETs in Africa, found that less than 1% of all patent applications related to CETs have been filed in Africa. A third study, presented at the UNEP "Sustainable Innovation" Conference on the fringe of the UNFCCC 20th Conference of Parties (CoP) in Lima, Peru in December 2014, looked at Latin America and the Caribbean and found that less than 3% of patent applications related to CCMTs have been filed in the region.

Green technology information for businesses and investors

Businesses face significant challenges in discovering and advancing sustainable technology solutions. They need smart investment in R&D and access to the most up-to-date green technology information.

The EPO recognises the importance of ensuring quick and clear access to information about sustainable technologies from patent documents and has established a special scheme to categorise them accordingly. The Y02 classification scheme, one of the recommendations that came out of the 2010 Clean Energy Report, makes it easier to search and retrieve patent documents relating to these technologies through the EPO's Espacenet patent database.

This brochure explains the particular Y02 classifications for a plethora of sustainable technologies so as to make your Espacenet patent search more effective.

Licensing in developing countries

Another important advantage of the Y02 classification scheme is the access to information about the licensing opportunities for sustainable technologies. Businesses and investors are able to quickly see where technologies are protected and, equally as important, where they are not, offering opportunities to make use of cutting edge technologies in developing countries rich in sustainable energy resources.

The Clean Energy Study found that "the majority of the sample (70 per cent) indicated they would be willing to provide more flexible licensing terms to recipients from developing countries" and that "academic institutions that responded were the most willing to provide more flexible terms to developing country recipients with limited financial capacity". Coupled with the wealth of information held within the Espacenet database, the Y02 scheme opens up the potential of over 1.9 million relevant patent documents, providing businesses with access to information that can inspire and enable the development of future green innovations.

You can find out more about the Y02 classification and see examples of how it can help to narrow your technology search in Espacenet here.