Innovation and diffusion of clean/green technology: Can patent commons help?

Bronwyn Hall & Christian Helmers


This paper explores the characteristics of 238 patents on 94 “inventions” contributed by major multinational innovators to the “Eco-Patent Commons”, which provides royalty-free access to third parties to patented climate change related innovations. By comparing the pledged patents to other patents in the same technologies or held by the same multinationals, we investigate the motives of the contributing firms as well as the potential for such commons to encourage innovation and diffusion of climate change related technologies. This study, therefore, indirectly provides evidence on the role of patents in the development and diffusion of green technologies. More generally, the paper sheds light on the performance of hybrid forms of knowledge management that combine open innovation and patenting.

JEL codes: H23,H42,K11,O33,O34

Keywords: patent commons; green technology; eco-aptents; diffusion; climate change

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