Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Inventing Clean Technologies

Intellectual Property and the Environment series

Matthew Rimmer

In the wake of the international summits in Copenhagen and Cancún, there is an urgent need to consider the role of intellectual property law in encouraging research, development, and diffusion of clean technologies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. This book charts the patent landscapes and legal conflicts emerging in a range of fields of innovation – including renewable forms of energy, such as solar power, wind power, and geothermal energy; as well as biofuels, green chemistry, green vehicles, energy efficiency, and smart grids.

Chapter 9: Environmental Prizes: The H-Prize, the L-Prize, and the X-Prize

Matthew Rimmer

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, innovation and technology, technology and ict, law - academic, environmental law, intellectual property law


9. Environmental prizes: the H-Prize, the L-Prize, and the X Prize Historically, prizes have been used by governments and corporations to encourage technological innovation to address problems and challenges. Famously, the British government passed the Longitude Act 1714 (UK) and offered three financial incentives to the inventor who developed a device capable of accurately measuring longitude.1 The winner of the prize was John Harrison, a clock maker. He was awarded £20,000 for designing an accurate and durable chronometer 59 years later. In 1775, the French provided a 100,000-franc prize resulting in an artificial form of alkali being produced. In 1810, the first vacuum-sealed food was produced by Nicolas Appert, after 15 years of experimentation, driven by a 12,000-franc prize offered by Napoleon. The aviation industry was spurred by prizes for crossing the English Channel and the Atlantic. The British Spitfire was developed as a result of the Schneider trophy, a series of prizes for technological development. The X Prize Foundation promoted private space flight with the $US 10 million Ansari X Prize.2 In October 2004, the Mojave Aerospace Ventures team captured the Ansari X Prize for the historic space flight of SpaceShipOne. The civil society group Knowledge Ecology International has provided a historical survey of innovation prizes and reward programmes that have been implemented with the primary purpose of stimulating innovation.3 The organisation contends that prizes have a number of virtues when compared with grants and patents: Prizes, however, offer certain important advantages over grants or temporary...

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