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The role of patents in helping policy-makers meet the EU's climate objectives was the subject of an event organised by the EPO on 7 December at the European Parliament in Brussels. The debate was hosted by Françoise Grossetête MEP, Vice-Chair of the EPP Group, the largest political group in the European Parliament, with the participation of Giovanni La Via MEP, Chair of the Parliament's Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety who led the European Parliament's delegation in Paris for COP 21 and in Marrakech for COP 22.
"European leadership in clean technologies is crucial for the European economy at the time when the Paris agreement has entered into force and the European Parliament is considering measures in line with the final deal," said EPO Vice-President for Legal and International Affairs Raimund Lutz in his opening remarks. "The patent system plays a key role in supporting innovation and technology dissemination in this globally important field," he said.
Françoise Grossetête MEP said: "Climate change mitigation technologies are essential to fulfil our European and international climate commitments. For that, we have to support more innovation and research in Europe. Industry, innovation and patents are keys to make Europe the leader of new low carbon technologies"
The event gathered around 30 participants, including ten
representatives of the European Parliament, as well as participants from other
EU institutions and industry.
The EPO's Chief Economist Yann Ménière presented the Office's activities in the area of sustainable technologies, which includes the publication in recent years of four joint studies with the UN Environment Programme on climate change mitigation technologies (CCMTs) in specific regions. The latest EPO-UNEP report on Europe shows that it is the world's leading region for innovation in the area of CCMTs, with one out of five low-carbon inventions worldwide originating here.
To illustrate the role of the patent system in supporting clean tech innovation, a representative of Danish company Amminex presented their story from idea to patent to market. Their invention of an ammonia storage solution to reduce air pollution from diesel cars earned the Danish team the European Inventor Award 2016 in the SMEs category.
The role of the patent system in facilitating access and transfer of knowledge was also highlighted: the EPO has created a dedicated tagging scheme for patent documents related to low-carbon technologies, enabling users to retrieve these technologies in the Office's public databases. This gives companies, engineers, scientists and policymakers involved in climate change issues easier access to the knowledge available in patents. It also makes it possible to map sustainable technologies, identify trends and produce facts and evidence for policy and business decisions.
All participants expressed their appreciation of the EPO-UNEP study on CCMTs, which highlights the link between patents and the development of sustainable technologies in Europe. Ms Grossetête added that the future Unitary Patent constitutes a major step for innovation in Europe, and Mr La Via said that Europe would only be able to improve its industries if it is able to protect its inventions.