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 21: Standards and related intellectual property issues for climate change technology

Jorge L. Contreras

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


Almost every product sold today must conform to standards, whether relating to its design, manufacture, operation, testing, safety, sale or disposal, and sometimes to many of these at once. At their root, standards are no more than written requirements or design features of a product, service or other activity. Standards can be breathtakingly detailed or disarmingly general, ranging from thousands of pages in length to just a few sentences. Standards are set by a wide range of bodies, from governmental agencies to industry consortia to multinational treaty organizations. Some standards are adopted into local, state or federal legislation and attain the force of law; others remain voluntary, yet are adopted by entire industries. This chapter provides a brief overview of the standards development landscape as it pertains to climate change technologies (sometimes referred to as ‘clean tech’, ‘green tech’ or sustainability technologies), as well as the critical intellectual property issues that affect standard setting today. Standards serve a variety of purposes and functions. Below is a brief description of the types of standards prevalent today. Prophylactic standards specify requirements intended to protect public health and safety, to preserve the environment and to prevent fraud and other abuses. These include most standards relating to food and drugs, air and water quality, hazardous materials, construction, transportation, handling of personal data and the like. Prophylactic standards such as emissions limitations and energy efficiency requirements are frequently associated with climate change technologies.

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