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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-06-09 04:14 PM
Original message
Der Spiegel: Who Says Saving the Planet Has to Cost a Fortune?
Edited on Fri Nov-06-09 04:15 PM by OKIsItJustMe
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,62860...
11/05/2009

Patent Lies

Who Says Saving the Planet Has to Cost a Fortune?

By Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck in Brussels

One of the nagging issues in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit are demands that the US and Europe provide massive aid so poorer countries can buy expensive emissions-free technologies. Activist David E. Martin claims many of the patents for today's low-carbon technologies -- including some used in wind power and hybrid cars -- are already in the public domain.

When the host of a party predicts a flop, it rarely inspires much confidence in a good bash. With just over a month to go before international climate talks start in Copenhagen the Danish government has done exactly that: Don't hold your breath, it said, it's unlikely there will be a binding global deal. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso had even stronger words earlier this week: "Of course we are not going to have a full-fledged binding treaty, Kyoto-type, by Copenhagen. There is not time for that."

Money is threatening the fight against climate change. Climate experts have priced emissions-cutting technologies needed by developing countries at 100 billion ($149 billion) a year starting in 2020, and they want to see about half of that investment burden shouldered by public funding from the United States, the European Union and Japan. The world's poorest countries warn that without a solid promise of funds, they will walk out of the Copenhagen summit. But 50 billion is more than the loose change European states, Washington and Tokyo are willing to dole out -- particularly after bailing out their banks. European leaders meeting in Brussels last week shirked concrete commitments, saying only they would contribute their "fair share" to upfront climate financing.

Need It Be that Expensive?

David E. Martin is travelling the globe to prove negotiators wrong about the cost of battling climate change. He's not making himself very popular. It's not that the 42-year-old patent expert denies global warming. It's that he says designs for green gadgets, from hybrid cars to wind turbines, are now in the public domain and freely available -- if you know how to find them. As executive chairman of innovation finance firm M-CAM, Martin has made it his life's mission to make sure an increasing number of people, companies and countries have access to this information. Most recently, in collaboration with the World Bank's Information for Development Program, he launched an online database of gadgets whose lapsed patents in advanced energy, water and agricultural technologies represent potential license savings worth, according to the World Bank, more than $2 trillion.

To big business, Martin is a nuisance because he questions the very validity of some of the vast profits expected from a new climate deal. To governments, his truth is inconvenient because it threatens a delicate relationship with corporate giants they want backing their climate goals. For Martin, it's a continuation of his interest in what he calls linguistic genomics - the study of how the meaning of words shifts and changes, and how this can be used to obscure meaning and gain an advantage. Patents, he says, keep getting issued because even though they cover the same ground, they're worded in different ways. So car brakes that charge an electric car become a "regenerative brake device having a driving wheel, an electric motor and a battery," or a wind turbine becomes "a power house and vanes rotating in the wind." The more complicated the wording, the more likely that a patent will be granted. Indeed, it can take a patent expert up to three days to assess two three-page patents for overlapping claims.

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timeforpeace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-06-09 04:19 PM
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1. The authors of cap and trade legislation?
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tabatha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-06-09 04:38 PM
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2. Just the Neanderthal climate deniers.
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