What does patent data reveal about climate change mitigation technology trends?
Patent data is used by innovators and organisations to better understand a technology landscape, identify interesting areas for innovation and help inform on the commercial viability of an invention. With green technology a hot topic and the consequences of climate change very clear, patent data can reveal some interesting climate change mitigation technology trends, identify areas of growth, as well as areas that aren’t advancing quite so quickly.
The green tech patent landscape
In a recent report, UK IP firm Mewburn Ellis outlined the current patent landscape revealing the areas of growth within the green technology space. The study showed strong patenting activity within the space over the past decade, with numbers more than doubling in areas such as adaptation and waste treatment. According to Mewburn Ellis partner, Jeremy Webster, these findings are positive and point to a willingness of both businesses and individuals to engage in innovation in this area and contribute to finding the necessary solutions.
Global growth of international patent families in low-carbon energy technologies versus all technologies, 2000-2019 (base 100 in 2000). Source: “Patents and the energy transition: Global trends in clean energy technology innovation”, published by the EPO and IEA (April 2021).
However, not all areas within the green tech space are experiencing the same level of growth. For instance, greenhouse gas capture is an area struggling to get off the ground with patent applications falling by 30% over the past decade. A possible reason for this pointed out in IAM Media’s article is that to be successfully deployed, investment in new plants and infrastructure along with underlying technologies is needed, whilst remaining commercially viable. Fewer companies can commit to the ongoing cost of innovation without substantial investment support, whereas areas such as waste management already have the infrastructure and technology in place. A lot of progress can be made by refining existing technology and innovating within established structures, making the area much more attractive. Patent data is an excellent source to discover existing technology and vital in the pursuit of IP technology licensing opportunities.
Why is patent data important?
When analysed correctly patent data can provide clear insights into a technology space, allowing innovators and businesses to forecast market needs and make important decisions when it comes to innovation. Not only does patent data give an overview of a technology landscape and help evaluate whether an idea is novel, but it can also identify technologies being developed by competitors allowing businesses to assess their competitors strengths, weaknesses, and business strategy. Patent data can also reveal potential licensing opportunities and help businesses make strategic merger and acquisition decisions.
Having access to a global patent search database such as PatBase can help businesses assess the patent landscape of a technology area and determine whether an invention is novel by performing comprehensive searches. Using the Citation Explorer tool allows companies to reveal the forward citations for a patent and identify possible licensing opportunities. Using PatBase and Analytics V3 to perform an in-depth analysis of an organisation’s patent portfolio can help identify their strengths and weaknesses and build a merger and acquisition strategy.
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