It's Getting Hotter – Climate Change & IP Strategy

By Duncan Bucknell, co-written with Consulting Editor Joanne Sinclair.

“Observational evidence from all continents and most oceans shows that many natural systems are being affected by regional climate changes, particularly temperature increases.

A global assessment of data since 1970 has shown that it is likely that anthropogenic (human made) warming has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems.”

These excerpts from the Climate Change 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) add to the body of evidence that the climate is changing and human activity has contributed.

Whether you agree with the evidence or not, it is certain that there has been a global shift in thinking. In the intellectual property space, there have recently calls for a change in strategy, and proposals for new laws covering innovation and intellectual property for green technology.

Globally populations are looking for ways to reduce pollution and be more resource efficient.

People are keen to adopt (and will need) new technologies, products and services to meet their needs.

Just in case you’ve missed them, some of the predicted impacts of climate change listed in the IPCC report include;

• Water availability will increase to 10 to 40% at high latitudes and in some wet tropical areas.

• Water availability will decrease by 10 to 30% in some dry regions at mid latitudes and in the dry tropics.

• More areas affected by drought.

• Increased risk of flood

• Changes to ecosystems due to wildfire, the ocean becoming more acidic, flooding and drought.

• Globally food production is predicted to increase with warming of 1 to 30C but above this it will decrease.

• Health effects including increased frequency of cardio-respiratory diseases due to higher concentrations of ground level ozone, increased diarrhoeal disease, increases in malnutrition and consequent disorders, and increased deaths, disease and injury due to heat waves, floods, storms, fires and droughts.

• Altered spatial distribution of some infectious disease vectors

It’s not all doom and gloom – the global mood of change offers plenty of opportunities. Such predictions make the development of new processes, products and technology vital to human life on Earth.

Here are some ideas on potential opportunities;

Technology that provides cleaner electricity and fuels, food packaging and storage technology for hotter climates, water efficient processes and plumbing, filtration devices for water reuse and recycling, drought resistant crops and plants, efficient cooling systems for homes, public buildings and workplaces and pharmaceuticals to deal with increases in disease.

Industries dealing in these areas may have opportunities, but of course there are many more areas. It’s limited only by your ingenuity!

So how can you work climate change into your IP strategy? Climate change should already be one of the variables built into your future business planning and hence your IP strategy.

If not;

  • Consider your present and future IP, does it reflect the global shift in thinking regarding climate change?
  • Is it time to rethink your branding and marketing message? Are there opportunities to capture a new or emerging market with new trade mark and other branding IP?
  • Revisit past IP – an idea that’s in storage may now be economically sound.
  • Use Climate Change as a springboard for a workshop on new ideas with your business team.
  • Your organization may have an environmental policy, but has it filtered through to your core business or your IP Strategy?
  • Does it need to?
  • Can you license products in new regions eg. cooling equipment in Southern Europe (predicted to become hotter due to climate change)?
  • Can you access government support for Climate Change projects or partner with research organizations?
  • Are there tax breaks (or deductions) on offer for Climate Change for your company?
  • Don’t forget to promote your good works – there’s marketing and public relations glory to be had as well.

With Climate Change considered as part of your IP strategy you not only save your bacon, but perhaps play a part in saving the world.

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