Joff Wild

Here's a quote from Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary:

You don’t build a power plant, put it in a boat and ship it overseas, similar to with buildings. So developing technologies for much more efficient buildings is something that can be shared in each country. If countries actively helped each other, they would also reap the home benefits of using less energy. So any area like that I think is where we should work very hard in a very collaborative way — by very collaborative I mean share all intellectual property as much as possible. And in my meetings with my counterparts in other countries, when we talk about this they say, yes, we really should do this. But there hasn’t been a coordinated effort. And so it’s like all countries becoming allies against this common foe, which is the energy problem.

It's taken from a report published in the New York Times. The newspaper claims that in an interview, Chu suggested dropping intellectual property protection in relation to some green technologies. If that is the case, it is an extraordinary thing for such a senior member of the Obama government to have said. If it in any way reflects what the President himself thinks, then it could signal a very worrying period ahead for IP owners in the US and elsewhere. Such a basic lack of understanding about how IP works is, quite frankly, terrifying. As GE's Steve Fludder points out elsewhere in the same article: "Why would we invest $1.5 billion a year in innovation that just slips through your fingers? ... I mean, why would anybody invest in anything that they would have to just give away?” 

Earlier this month, senior figures from the greentech sector in the US wrote to Congressional leaders opposing the damages apportionment provisions in the Patent Reform Act 2009 and emphasising the importance of the patent system. Clearly the Energy Secretary did not see that letter - maybe someone should send him a copy.