Note: This article, by Steven E. Feldman and Sherry L. Rollo, originally appeared in the National Law Review.
High-tech industries have long used the patent system to protect their developments. The energy sector, particularly emerging energy, is no different, with an ever increasing number of patents being filed both domestically and internationally on technologies such as wind, solar, hydro, biofuels and other alternative automobile power source technologies.
The energy sector also faces an unprecedented combination of government regulation and industry standard setting that greatly complicate the intellectual property landscape. In some countries this can result in either compulsory licensing of these technologies or government appropriation of the technologies, which are seen as critical to national development and security.
Despite these complexities, energy companies, particularly newer entrants to this sector, seem to lag somewhat behind their peers in the areas of biotechnology, consumer electronics and computers in terms of their level of sophistication in protecting and exploiting their intellectual property assets.
We will present our review in four parts, concentrating on the intellectual property issues that arise in the world of emerging technology, including the different patent programs being implemented around the world to promote innovation in the energy industry, and issues faced by the regulated energy industry with respect to the government and involvement in Standard Setting Organizations (“SSO”).
Future articles in the series will include:
- Why Worry About Intellectual Property Rights?
- Changes In The Legal And Regulatory Landscape In The U.S. And Around The World Are Affecting Energy Related Intellectual Property
- Intellectual Property Issues Facing Companies That Develop And Use Energy Related Technologies.