The IPKat has been reading a fascinating press release from the UK's Intellectual Property Office on the subject of climate change. It runs like this:
"The development and production of new low carbon technologies is important in the global effort to tackle climate change [Agreed]. Key to this effort is the management of the intellectual property emerging from joint work [This already begs the question because it assumes that the emergent research results will be (i) protectable and (ii) actually protected. Some souls have argued that planet-saving innovations should be freed from the restrictive shackles of IP rights for the sake of the common good].
Talks in Beijing on Tuesday hosted by UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and the State Intellectual Property Office of the People’s Republic of China discussed the creation of a business and university friendly framework that will benefit both the UK and China. Although working together and sharing knowledge is an important way of promoting innovation, the management of intellectual property can sometimes be a barrier to this joint work. An agreement is therefore needed to help decide where IP rights should lie in joint work between UK and Chinese businesses and research organisations [This could be a great way of testing different IP management models: the efficacy of R&D under an agreed Sino-British framework could be tested against 'free range' uncontrolled collaborative research].
Tuesday’s meeting is seen as a first step towards agreeing this process. At the workshop participants discussed:
* The benefits of establishing a framework for managing IP in UK-China joint research and development [but first you have to identify the criteria for determining what is a benefit and the relative importance of different ones: saving the environment, making money, raising the level of technical cooperation between institutions etc ...];
* The differences between domestic agreements and cross-border agreements, particularly with respect to different legal frameworks [The IPKat would welcome expansion of this point];
* Why establishing a framework for IP management will be particularly important for R&D projects on low carbon innovations [... and not other types of projects, presumably?].
Director General of the Confederation of British Industry, Richard Lambert, who pioneered the development of model agreements in the UK gave the keynote speech at the workshop. He said:
"Some of the best ideas for tackling climate change and other major challenges facing the world today are going to come out of collaborative work between business and universities. Having model IP agreements and guidance available can significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the collaboration process [a model IP agreement, properly devised and utilised, can be very helpful; but one has to avoid the problems of (i) the model becoming a straitjacket and (ii) insufficiently flexible means of making running changes in the light of experience and project-specific considerations]. It has worked well in the UK -- now the next step is to share that experience internationally, and what better place to start than with China." [er, the United States, Japan, Germany ...?]
Peter Holland, International Director, IPO said:
"Evidence suggests that managing and reaching agreement in IP ownership and access is difficult in all industry sectors [That, says the IPKat, is why you need IP lawyers ...]. This means that collaborative projects can take a long time to set up or simply never happen [... and we can blame that on the collaborating parties]. The provision of a framework for IP management looks to encourage and support more collaboration. It could also dramatically reduce the transaction costs involved in establishing such agreements and we hope this increases technology diffusion".
Lu Guoliang, Director General, International Cooperation Department, said:
"It’s very important to provide a platform for industry and the academic sector from both China and UK to discuss and exchange views on collaborative research and development. Especially against the backdrop of the global financial crisis, how to establish and improve an effective system to promote IP creation and transfer, is a very important issue" [Doesn't the existing system have any merits? Not that it can't be improved, of course]. ...
The UK is a key market for China and the UK is China’s largest EU investor [Ah, of course -- the motive!]. In 2008 China/UK trade was worth over £25 billion [To whom? How much British money has gone in? And how much has come out again? Oh, the Kat forgot -- you're not allowed to ask that question]. To be successful, it is vital that companies and universities understand the importance of protecting and exploiting their ideas in a key high growth market such as China.China Cat here
The workshop will be followed up with further working level activities to lay down the framework for IP management".
Climate in China here (in case you're planning a trip)
Chinese Carbon here
3rd Annual Carbon Trade China Conference here