Cleantech IP: How to Share and Profit

Depending on who you ask, compulsory licensing — an option for governments to force companies to license technology if they’re not selling it in a particular market — can be seen as either a doomsday scenario for innovation, or a fair way to ensure distribution of beneficial but expensive tech. The highest-profile examples of compulsory licensing come from the pharmaceutical industry, where the policy is often used to make life-saving drugs more widely available at lower cost than they would be if one company controlled all production. As you might have noticed, drugmakers aren’t exactly going out of business.
But according to Elise Zoli, a partner at the law firm Goodwin Procter who heads up the firm’s energy practice, trying to apply a similar policy to cleantech in the next international climate deal comes with a big risk: widening the valley of death, where many startups collapse because they can’t finance key phases of development or commercialization. Read More about Cleantech IP: How to Share and Profit

Can Creative Commons Halt Climate Change?

Intellectual property issues are becoming a lynchpin of climate negotiations as the countdown to the Copenhagen climate change conference continues. While there’s still some disagreement over how aggressive climate targets need to be, there’s a growing consensus among participating countries that clean technologies will play a critical role in reaching whatever targets are set. But how those technologies are developed, deployed and distributed is still a thorny issue. A recent partnership between a Nike-led coalition of companies and Creative Commons could help the U.S. and developing nations forge an agreement on the role intellectual property will play.

Updated: Will Nokia Jettison Symbian for Android? Answer Is “No”

Updated: The Guardian reports that Nokia (s NOK) is planning a touchscreen mobile phone that runs Google’s (s goog) Android operating system and the handset maker will likely show off the device at the Nokia World conference in September 2009. When I read the story based on information from “industry insiders,” I was incredulous.

Analysts at HSBC reckon Nokia had 47 percent of the global smartphone market in 2007; that was down to 35 percent last summer and 31 percent at the end of the year…But the response to the opening of Symbian has been relatively muted. By contrast, users of the iPhone have already downloaded over a billion applications in just nine months and Android has attracted a host of developers offering their “widgets,” or applications, to consumers through the Android Marketplace.

Will Nokia jettison hundreds of millions of dollars it has invested in Symbian, the operating system that powers its Nokia N- and E-Series phones, among others? If it does, it would be a major shift for the company and a tactical admission that its own efforts in developing software and services for a new era of the mobile web was a bust. Read More about Updated: Will Nokia Jettison Symbian for Android? Answer Is “No”

Will Toyota’s Patents Block or Spur Hybrid Competition?

Until the launch of Honda’s (s HMC) low-cost hybrid Insight earlier this year, Toyota (s TM) was pretty much the unchallenged king of the hybrid market. It took an early lead with the launch of its Prius, and has hung onto it, acquiring patents along the way — or, as The Wall Street Journal put it today, building a “thicket” of patents around hybrid technology in order to block competition.

Over the last decade, Toyota has been racking up patents for hybrid systems and components — starting with more than 300 patents for the first-generation Prius, about 370 for gen-2, and upwards of 2,000 for the latest model, Toyota North America VP Bob Carter told reporters in January at the Detroit Auto Show. Rival automakers including Ford, Honda and General Motors, however, think they can find workarounds with their own innovation. They might be foolish not to — Global Insight forecasts that hybrids could snag some 5 to 11 percent of the U.S. market by 2015, up from 2.2 percent in 2007.

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T-Mobile Readies Next Android Phone in the U. S.

mytouch3gThe T-Mobile G1 has been a pretty solid first Android (s GOOG) effort for T-Mobile in the U.S., and now the carrier is getting ready to release the next-generation phone, the myTouch 3G. The new phone is thinner and lighter than the G1, but retains much about the form factor of the original. The myTouch 3G loses the physical keyboard, which will be a good thing for some and a bad thing for others. It runs Android 1.5, which adds an onscreen keyboard, making it possible to lose the real deal.

The myTouch 3G is the same phone as the Google Ion/HTC Magic that’s already available in Europe, and can be ordered by existing T-Mobile customers on July 8th with a shipping date of July 29. It will cost $199.99 with a 2-year contract and T-Mobile is offering a unique extended warranty for the phone, cost unknown.

(via Gear Log)

The Next Climate Deal: How Big is the Battle for Cleantech IP?

COP15-logoLate last month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pulled together a small, motley crew of companies with a stake in upcoming climate policy to launch its Innovation, Development & Employment Alliance — a group trying to ensure that an international climate deal doesn’t weaken rules about who can profit from cleantech innovations. As we’ve noted before, the V-P of the Chamber of Commerce’s intellectual property center called the UN climate negotiations taking place in Copenhagen this December “the IP battle of the year.”

solar-arm-china

But for those waging battles to defend IP, the consequences of negotiators taking a “very collaborative” approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sharing “all intellectual property as much as possible,” as U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has urged, may not be such big a threat.

“In a world that’s innovating quickly, the life cycle of IP is short,” Alan Salzman, CEO and managing partner of VantagePoint Venture Partners told us in an interview recently, shortly after he returned from a summit in Copenhagen designed to get the business community on the same page about climate policies. Asked if he was worried about the next climate deal, which will replace the Kyoto Protocol, compromising IP protections, he said, “It’s not to my mind one of the larger issues.”
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Miro Outdoes iTunes with New Channel Guide

miroguideThe Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF) unveiled version 2.0 of its open-source video player, Miro, yesterday. The new version features a revamped UI, a smaller memory footprint and the ability to access streaming video sites like Hulu.com from right within the client. We covered those changes in greater detail a few weeks back, and others have added their own take. However, one important new feature so far hasn’t gotten much coverage at all: Miro’s new channel guide.

Miro uses the guide to offer easy access to more than 4,000 web video shows and podcasts. Users can also access the guide on the web and use it to stream or download shows from right within their browser. The folks from the PCF have been comparing the site to other web video program guides like Odeo, but it’s fairly obvious that they’re really trying to replace the one content catalog that rules them all: the podcast directory of Apple’s (s aapl) iTunes Store. And they might just do it, too.

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What To Do When Your Work is Stolen Online

Stealing on the internet is easy. It takes very little effort for someone to copy your work and slap their name on it. Almost every month I hear of a photographer, blogger, or designer I know whose work gets used without their permission. With all this copyright infringement going around, I’d be surprised if a majority of WWD readers claim that this has never happened to them.

Hillcrest Labs: Nintendo’s Wii Infringing Our Patents

Hillcrest Labs, a Rockville, Mnd.-based startup, says it has filed complaints for patent infringement against Nintendo, related to the Wii video game system. The company claims that many consumer electronics companies (not disclosed publicly) have licensed Hillcrest’s technologies.