Some major players in the corporate community have come together in a first-of-its-kind effort to help the environment by opening environmentally-oriented patents to the public domain.
According to the companies involved, which include IBM, Sony, Nokia, and Pitney Bowes among others, the availability of these patents will encourage researchers, entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes in any industry to create, apply and further develop their consumer or industrial products, processes and services in an environmentally responsible manner.
Patents pledged to the Eco-Patent Commons -- originally proposed at IBM's Global Innovation Outlook conference -- feature innovations focused on environmental matters and innovations in manufacturing or business processes where the solution provides an environmental benefit. For example, a company may pledge a patent for a manufacturing process that reduces hazardous waste generation, or energy or water consumption. A pledged patent covering a procurement or logistics solution may reduce fuel consumption.
Examples of the environmental benefits expected for pledged patents include:
- Energy conservation or improved energy or fuel efficiency
- Pollution prevention (source reduction, waste reduction)
- Use of environmentally preferable materials or substances
- Water or materials use reduction
- Increased recycling opportunity.
Membership in the Eco-Patent Commons is open to all individuals and companies pledging one or more patents. The selection and submission of each organizations patents for pledging is at the organization's discretion. The founding companies and the WBCSD are inviting other interested companies to become members and participate in this initiative promoting innovation and collaboration to help protect the planet.
The Eco-Patent Commons was originally proposed at IBM's Global Innovation Outlook conference, which brings together hundreds of the world's thought leaders from business, politics, academia, and not-for-profits to discuss business and social challenges, demonstrating the power and benefits of open, collaborative innovation models.
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