Tech companies in renewables sector urged to secure IP rights

Tech companies in renewables sector urged to secure IP rights

Daniel Sizer

Tech companies operating in the renewable energy sector could cause decades of damage to their market position if they fail to secure their IP rights now, an expert has warned.

Patent attorney Daniel Sizer, a senior associate at Marks & Clerk, said the coronavirus pandemic has put huge financial pressures on the sector. But he is urging tech companies to keep one eye on the future when considering IP budget cuts, in order to avoid unintended long-term consequences.

He said: “We’re set to see the first annual decline in two decades for renewable power installations worldwide, a 13 per cent drop in net additions of renewable energy capacity this year, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest forecast.

“A range of factors are to blame, from delays in construction activity due to supply chain disruption, lockdown measures and social-distancing guidelines, and emerging financing challenges. This obviously puts pressure on technology companies working in this space.

“Naturally this will lead companies to explore cost efficiencies but when doing so, they must not underestimate the importance of the long-term investment that is their IP. Failing to file and prosecute IP rights now can prejudice their exclusivity in the future, and therefore impact their market position, for the next 20 years or more.”

Even during turbulent economic times, there are a number of options for managing IP, with experts and businesses alike taking lessons from the financial crash in 2008.

These could range from exploring extension options to taking a fresh look at your IP portfolio to prioritise what is most valuable.

Mr Sizer explained: “Many businesses will be grappling with their finances at the moment, but there are a number of ways to maintain and pursue rights now to safeguard your position, while being sensitive to the increased pressure on businesses during these difficult times.

“For small technology businesses, IP rights are often critical to their long term success, but pursuing all of these rights can be costly and not feasible at a time when financial support and investment is scarce. In order to maintain existing rights, these companies can look to utilise extensions or other innovative ways to delay costs.

“For more established companies with a more extensive patent portfolio, it may be necessary to more actively manage your IP portfolio. This may mean mapping your IP rights alongside your commercial activities and those of your competitors to identify the highest-value rights.

“It may even be possible to monetise some of your rights – for example through licensing – or to cut costs, for example by spending less on lower-value rights.”

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