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The role of patent protection in (clean/green) technology transfer

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B., H Hall
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This paper explores the role of patent protection in influencing mitigation action through the development and diffusion of a large number of clean technologies. The authors first review the historical evidence on the role of patents to foster innovation and international technology transfer. They also illustrate transfer of technology through trade, Foreign Direct Investment, and licensing in the presence of a stronger patent regime. Within this paper, technology development is theorised, empirical evidence and case studies are provided and specific climate change technologies are discussed. The paper draws attention to the fact that a variety of technologies are in various stages of their development to effectively contribute to mitigation action in different spheres. However, given that the development and spread of technologies will vary from country to country, having a standard mechanism to typify the link between Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and green technologies seems difficult. The authors assert that while IPRs can help bridge the gap between private and social returns to innovation, they might not adequately capture the environmental externalities. The key conclusion of the paper is that intellectual property may not be the ideal and only policy instrument to foster effective transfer of clean technology.