Part I: Guangzhou, China
Cleantech innovation continues apace, despite the general economic malaise gripping much of the world. Two countries that are heavily invested in renewable energy development are China and Israel.
Despite their extreme differences in population, size, and access to natural resources, these two countries have forced their way onto the global Cleantech innovation stage. Not surprisingly, and as previously noted by this blog, both countries have instituted expedited green patent programs, amongst other policy initiatives aimed at fostering Cleantech innovation.
Both countries recently hosted Cleantech conferences, where I was privileged to speak on “Green” intellectual property issues, and advocate for increased awareness of those issues on the part of the Cleantech business community.
The first conference I attended was BIT’s 2nd New Energy Forum in Guangzhou, China, in mid-October. One is immediately struck by the tremendous economic vitality exhibited in Guangzhou, with numerous ongoing construction projects neighboring a like number of recently completed facilities.
With such rapid development on display, there clearly is a market for sustainable products to use in construction in China. And at the conference itself, numerous personalities from the academic and business worlds discussed the importance of an engaged China in advancing the development and utilization of sustainable products and services.
Considering the number of attendees that I spoke to who were there on behalf of various departments of the Chinese national and provincial government industries, it is fair to assume that developing a viable Cleantech sector is an important initiative for China.
And I noticed an increasing awareness among conference attendees of the importance of intellectual property rights in fostering innovation, and for allowing China to continue to compete globally. Even Chinese manufacturers are become increasingly aware of the need to provide a safe home for foreign know-how, so that innovative Cleantech companies will look to China as a manufacturing partner for their products.
Of course, many in China are sensitive to the reputation of their country in the global business community.
Some officials I talked to were very invested in the ongoing trade dispute regarding solar panels manufactured in China, and the allegations of price dumping that are being pursued in some of China’s target export markets, including the USA. While that dispute looks like it will be an ongoing one, the conference made clear that China is interested in developing its Cleantech sector, and increasing its presence in the Cleantech community worldwide.
It remains to be seen how tightly China will adhere to enforcing intellectual property rights domestically, and whether Chinese companies will act responsibly regarding intellectual property rights in foreign markets as well.
Gaston Kroub is a partner in the New York office of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP. Gaston serves as the co-chair of the Greentech Committee of the NYSBA’s IP Section and has been accredited as a LEED Green Associate. Gaston is a registered patent attorney whose practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and counseling.