Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Climate Change

Research Handbooks in Intellectual Property series

Edited by Joshua D. Sarnoff

This innovative research tool presents insights from a global group of leading intellectual property, environment, trade, and industrial scholars on the emerging and controversial topic of intellectual property and climate change. It provides a unique review of the scientific background, international treaties, and political context of climate change; identifies critical conflicts and differences of approach; and describes the relevant intellectual property law doctrines and policy options for regulating, developing, or disseminating needed technologies, activities, and business practices.

Chapter 12: Catalyzing technology development through university research

Jorge L. Contreras and Charles R. McManis

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, intellectual property law


Research universities have traditionally been catalysts for technological innovation, particularly in new and emerging industries. A recent report on the management of university intellectual property confirms this historical role, stating that universities ‘have a lengthy track record of providing dynamic environments for generating new ideas and spurring innovation, and for moving advances in knowledge and technology into the commercial stream where they can be put to work for the public good’. Products ranging from the Gatorade® sports drink to the polymerase chain reaction gene sequencing technology have emerged from university laboratories. University-based research played a major role in the growth of the early biotechnology industry and has made notable contributions to industries such as computer software, medical devices and the internet. In the United States (US), universities and other research institutions spent over $53 billion on research in 20093 and of the top 50 holders of US patents in the ‘biotech and pharma’ field in 2009, seven were US universities and eight more were US and non-US governmental or quasi-governmental research institutions. Against this backdrop, it is not surprising that some of the most promising new technologies relating to climate change are being developed at research universities. A growing number of universities, both in the US and internationally, have established patent positions in climate change technologies such as solar energy, wind power and biofuels. Several US universities have initiated ambitious ‘clean tech’ programs that combine academic research with industrial partnerships, business formation and policy analysis.

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