The Cleantech sector is a rapidly growing field encompassing a
diverse range of technologies which aim to mitigate climate change
and reduce the world's carbon footprint. With the
introduction of a carbon tax imminent in Australia, the message is
clear that the time to reduce carbon footprints and develop
innovative clean energy solutions is now. However, a difficulty
which many entrepreneurs and startups face, is how to turn an
innovative idea into a commercial reality. Often, one of the most
important early steps in achieving such an outcome is protecting
the intellectual property (IP) in the
Cleantech technology that is patent protected maximises the
value of a start-up's business. A patent is an asset that
offers its owner many advantages if leveraged properly. A patent
protects the core functionality of the technology, the way it
works, and a well drafted patent should make it difficult for a
competitor to easily work around. In one sense therefore, a patent
is designed to make it difficult for competitors to piggy-back a
technology developed by the patentee, and offers the patentee a
temporary legal monopoly ("the first mover
advantage") to exploit and reap the reward of their
time and financial expenditure.
Patent Offices around the world have also recognised the
importance of patents in cleantech by initiating programmes to
fasttrack examination of patent applications relating to green
technology, such that examination of these patent applications may
now occur within months from filing rather than several years.
Amongst the Patent Offices offering a green technology fast-track
program are those of Australia (IP Australia), the
United States (USPTO), the United Kingdom
(UK Intellectual Property Office), Korea
(KIPO), Japan (JPO), Israel and
The ability to fast-track patent applications for green
technology innovations through Patent Offices may be beneficial to
cleantech start-ups in particular, as patent rights will be created
much sooner which will send a positive signal to the market and
potential investors. Whether or not a technology is patent
protected, often influences a venture capital or private equity
firm's decision on whether to invest in the technology. The
ability to obtain patent rights earlier rather than later may
therefore be enormously valuable in attracting such critical
investment. Further, having patent protection in place is seen as
adding value to the goodwill of a business and, moreover, can
demonstrate a maturity of approach, according to Geoff Thomas,
Managing Director of Private Equity investor Paragon Private
While patents may help initially to secure vital capital needed
to commercialise new green technologies, strategic leverage later
on down the track through licensing should also not be forgotten as
this may help future revenue growth of the business. Effective
patent licensing can also generate revenue in new markets, thereby
maximising the value of the technology. For more information on
fast-tracking green technology patent applications or leveraging
existing IP, please contact a member of our Greentech group.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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