Sunday, November 8, 2009

Obama Asked to Prevent Compulsory Licensing ('Give Away') of US Cleantech Patented Technologies at Upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Negotiations

Clean-Energy Cause Shouldn’t Void Patents, Senators Tell Obama

By Jim Efstathiou Jr.
Bloomberg News
Nov. 4, 2009
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. must “stand fast” on patent protection and resist calls from developing nations to share energy-efficient technologies to combat climate change, 42 senators told President Barack Obama.

The administration shouldn’t waver in its “support of American intellectual property, American workers, and American innovators” during climate-change talks next month in Copenhagen, the lawmakers said in the letter to Obama yesterday that was circulated by Senator Evan Bayh, an Indiana Democrat.

Developing nations have cited a World Trade Organization ruling as grounds to break patent protections on drugs in health emergencies. Some seek a similar approach to wind- and solar- energy innovations in the name of curbing global warming. U.S. companies such as General Electric Co., which makes wind turbines, would be forced to give free or low-cost access to patents under such proposals.

“They want companies in the U.S. to give away their technology,” said Lawrence Kogan, head of the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development, a Princeton, N.J.- based group that advocates for intellectual property rights. It’s part of an effort to “treat intellectual property as a utilitarian tool to promote development.”

Delegates from about 190 nations will meet in Copenhagen next month in the effort to complete a global-warming treaty. How to help fast-growing developing countries pay for clean- energy technology is one of the unresolved issues.

U.S. officials such as Todd Stern, special envoy for climate change, and Ron Kirk, U.S. trade representative, have said the administration won’t weaken intellectual-property protections.

India, Brazil, China

India, Brazil and China, the world’s largest greenhouse-gas emitter, want easier access to licenses to make and export systems that produce electricity with fewer emissions, said James Love, an economist with Knowledge Ecology International, a Washington-based group that follows intellectual-property negotiations.

“If what you’re trying to do is mobilize the world to do something about climate change, you could actually be in favor of a lot of compulsory licensing,” Love said in an interview. “If you want to deal with climate change, you want buy-in from developing countries.”

World Trade Organization agreements should be interpreted to “allow compulsory licensing of patents for the production of climate-friendly equipment and goods that embed climate-friendly technology,” the United Nations’ Geneva-based Conference on Trade and Development said in a report released on Sept. 7.

The sharing of some clean-energy patents has support from Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from West Virginia, a coal- producing state. He said he backs development of “national technologies” to reduce carbon dioxide from burning coal that “nobody can put a patent on.”

‘Just Give It’

“If we get a good technology and Wall Street and industry and everybody else buys into it, then I want to give it free of charge to the Chinese and the Indians and to others, anybody who needs it,” Rockefeller told reporters Oct. 30. “Just give it. This is a worldwide problem.”

Senate Democrats began committee debate this week on legislation to limit greenhouse gas-emissions. The House passed a climate-change bill in June.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Efstathiou Jr. in New York at Last Updated: November 4, 2009 09:30 EST
Senators Bayh, Voinovich Ask President Obama to Protect American Intellectual Property
Office of U.S. Senator Evan Bayh
Nov. 4, 2009
Washington– U.S. Senators Evan Bayh (D-IN) and George V. Voinovich (R-OH) led a bipartisan letter [ ] signed by 42 senators to President Obama calling on the president to protect American intellectual property (IP), jobs and innovation in the United Nations (U.N.) Framework Convention on climate change negotiation.

“Unless we take aggressive action to protect the intellectual property of our entrepreneurs and manufacturers, we will continue to watch profits and jobs migrate overseas,” Sen. Bayh said. “Protecting our innovations in international climate negotiations will encourage the development of more American technology and help us maintain the economic strength we will need to advance our efforts to reduce carbon emissions.”

“We must fight to protect American innovators, entrepreneurs and manufacturers involved in creating our cutting-edge clean energy technologies,” Sen. Voinovich said. “It is universally held that the answer to climate change lies in technology. Now is not the time to take away a major incentive, undermine innovation and weaken our economy. We must protect American IP - thus protecting American jobs, creativity and innovation.”

Bill Keith, President of SunRise Solar in St. John, Indiana praised the letter, saying, “Senator Bayh is bringing attention to the protection of American patents and breakthrough innovations at a critical time. Some countries are using the climate change negotiations as a means to obtain our technological designs. If they succeed, it will cost Indiana jobs and harm our global competitiveness. Our Hoosier-made products contribute to the fight against global warming and stimulate job growth, and environmentally responsible companies like ours must be protected as the climate change debate moves forward.”

The letter sent to the president highlights the importance of safeguarding IP rights for clean technology as the United States takes part in the U.N. climate change negotiations this December in Copenhagen. It recognizes the president’s commitment and asks for his support for IP rights in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and urges further support from American negotiators as the process continues. There are international efforts to weaken IP protections, which the senators strongly oppose.

The senators also recognize the importance of a strong IP system in attracting the research and development dollars needed for investment in new technologies that will bring jobs and solutions to global problems. IP rights allow innovators to attract the investment needed to develop and market their ideas, promoting economic growth and prosperity and creating high-value American jobs.

Sens.Bayh and Voinovich have worked hard to protect American innovation for years. The senators introduced legislation in the 110th Congress designed to address intellectual property rights enforcement issues and to protect American innovation and advancement. The legislation was introduced July 2008 by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ranking Member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Sens. Bayh and Voinovich. The bill was signed into law October 2008.
Office of U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch
June 18, 2009
Washington – U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) today sent a letter to President Obama urging him to protect intellectual property (IP) rights. In addition to his own, Hatch secured the following signatures for the letter: Sen. Evan Byah (D- Ind.) Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R- Utah) Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D- Mich.) Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R- Iowa) Sen. Arlen Specter (D- Penn.) Sen. George V. Voinovich (R- Ohio) Sen. John Thune (R- S.Dak.) Sen. Judd Gregg (R- Nh.) Sen. David Vitter (R- La.)
“The United States government cannot afford to sit idle while others seek to weaken IP protections,” the senators explain. “America must continue to set the standard for IP protection, and be willing to confront those countries and organizations that attempt to weaken IP rights.
The senators explain that industries based on IP employ 18 million Americans and account for more than $5 trillion of the nation’s GDP and more than half of all our exports. “IP rights have not caused any of the world’s problems, and compulsory licensing is not the key to solving them. Maintaining strong IP rights is essential to economic growth and continued innovation, and protecting IP rights will not only improve the world’s development but America’s as well”, they conclude.
The full letter is attached and below:
June 18, 2009
The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Protecting intellectual property (IP) rights has been a fundamental concept in the United States since the Founders provided Congress with the power “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts” in the Constitution.
Today, America’s commitment to strong IP protection has yielded astounding results. Not only do industries based on IP employ 18 million Americans, but they also account for more than $5 trillion of the nation’s GDP, and more than half of all our exports. The United States’ commitment to strong IP has been a major impetus in propelling it to the forefront of manufacturing.
Today we stand on the cutting edge of the bio-tech, entertainment, energy and consumer electronics industries, to name a few. Further investment in these areas will lead to an improved economy and millions of jobs. To ensure the United States maintains its leadership we must continue to reward the creativity of scientists and inventors and provide incentive for businesses and workers to invest time and resources in improving technology and accelerating innovation.
Despite the overwhelming evidence that strong IP rights lead to scientific progress, there are many governments, NGOs and even UN agencies that seek to weaken IP protections. Many governments mischaracterize IP rights as an obstacle to progress and a barrier to helping others.
Urgently addressing health and environmental crises is a priority that all nations should take seriously. These challenges are handled best when governments and private industry work together. Unfortunately, some governments require compulsory licenses of IP, while others require forced technology transfers. These short-sighted approaches to IP rights will curtail growth and development, and stagnate the very industries that these countries depend on.
For example, China and India claim they cannot meet future global emission requirements without free or significantly discounted access to climate change mitigation technologies.
While addressing global pollution and environmental harm is an important endeavor, sacrificing IP protections to achieve it is not the solution. Weakening IP protections will create a disincentive for inventors and large companies to invest in technologies that reduce global emissions and improve the environment. This disincentive will lead to fewer and less efficient technologies, and will significantly impede our ability to improve the environment.
President Barack Obama Page Two June 18, 2009
The United States government cannot afford to sit idle while others seek to weaken IP protections. America must continue to set the standard for IP protection, and be willing to confront those countries and organizations that attempt to weaken IP rights. The world faces many challenges today. IP rights have not caused any of the world’s problems, and compulsory licensing is not the key to solving them. Maintaining strong IP rights is essential to economic growth and continued innovation, and protecting IP rights will not only improve the world’s development but America’s as well.
Evan Bayh
Orrin G. Hatch
Robert F. Bennett
Debbie Stabenow
Charles E. Grassley
Arlen Specter
George V. Voinovich
John Thune
Judd Gregg
David Vitter

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