CGLI Talk: 'Intellectual Property Law in Emergency: Is a TRIPS waiver for climate change on the horizon?'
Online via Microsoft Teams
The Centre of Global Law and Innovation (CGLI) will welcome Caoimhe Ring from the Oxford Intellectual Property Research Centre on Wednesday 15 February 2023 to present a talk on 'Intellectual Property Law in Emergency: Is a TRIPS waiver for climate change on the horizon?'
During this presentation, Caoimhe will present her doctoral research on the relationship between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and innovation policies to mitigate climate change. In this chapter, she contextualises the TRIPS waiver for COVID-19 vaccine technologies in a broader discourse about the suspension of IPRs during times of emergency. Faced with emergency, innovation policy changes. Public sector actors take on expanded roles, with ‘mission-oriented’ innovation prizes and funds. Innovation missions are often accompanied by the weakening or outright suspension of patent rights, which is readily painted as a barrier to much-needed solutions. The need to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions has been said to call for a dirigiste ‘Manhattan project’ for climate-friendly technologies, drawing on the dirigiste policies that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, WWII, and even the Apollo Missions. It raises the question: is a TRIPS waiver for climate-friendly technologies on the horizon? Averting ecological catastrophe justifies considering all options, however, this chapter offers an argument from caution. Climate change differs substantially from the innovation missions invoked for pandemics or defence-style projects. Climate change is a ‘chronic’ emergency: the technology adoption relies on private sector innovation, and one cannot make policy prescriptions ‘in the “old bottles” of Manhattan or Apollo projects’. As a chronic problem, it requires substantial private sector innovation, and thus any weakening or IPRs may negatively impact climate-friendly innovation, particularly, as regards technology adoption.
Caoimhe is a DPhil Candidate in Law at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Professor Robert Burrell. Her thesis considers the relationship between intellectual property rights (IPRs) and innovation policies to mitigate climate change. For her doctoral project, Caoimhe completed empirical research on why renewable energy entrepreneurs file patents, which included 35 interviews and analysis of hundreds of patent application documents. The findings indicate that patents facilitate collaboration rather than competition; helping incumbent firms and market entrants to jointly commercialise new technologies, which includes the various activities carried out to bring inventions from the lab to market.
This event will be a hybrid event and will take place via Microsoft Teams.
If you have any questions about this event, please email the Law Research Exec Mailbox.