The 25th and 26th of June saw offshore wind experts from around the world arrive in the UK for the 2019 Global Offshore Wind event, held at the London ExCel centre. The event is a big one, billed as “the premier offshore wind event in the world’s largest offshore wind market”, and was packed with professionals giving fascinating talks on a wide variety of topics, as well as holding expert panels and debates. There were even political keynotes.
Right from the start, there was a buzz at the event, a sort of industry wide recognition that the sector had arrived at an important moment in its development. Indeed, a massive and potentially far reaching sector deal had recently been agreed with the UK Government, which featured £557 million in annual subsidies to help propel the UK offshore wind sector into a world leader in energy generation on the international stage. In view of this, there was a feeling that the sector now has a realistic opportunity to become truly competitive with traditional forms of non-renewable energy generation, not just in the UK but also overseas.
One key area, identified during the various talks and discussions as being critical for achieving this laudable aim, was innovation. If the industry is going to be truly competitive with traditional forms of energy, technology has to be up to the task. This means that not only does the technology for the actual generation of energy itself need to be developed, but so does the technology for extracting that energy from the turbines, transporting it back on shore, and then delivering it effectively onto the grid. This requires innovation in both static wind turbine and floating wind turbine technology, as well as in areas such as high voltage cables, hydrogen energy storage, and even A.I. (the latter being important for delivering the energy onto the grid at the right times and in the right locations).
It is important for companies involved in these areas of innovation to consider their strategy for protecting their inventions in the commercial setting. This is where a sophisticated and thought through patent strategy is crucial.
Patents can help individual businesses effectively commercialise their innovations. At its most fundamental, a patent gives the proprietor the right to stop competitors from working the invention covered by the patent in the jurisdiction in which the patent has been granted.
However, there are many other ways in which patents can help individual companies attain their business objectives. For example, collaborative patent strategies can be formulated which involve groups of businesses. This could take the form of cross-licensing, e.g. in the form of patent pools, in which a group of companies jointly agree to take licences under each other’s patents. This means that every member of the group benefits both financially and by gaining access to key technology. Therefore, a patent right covering an important technology could give the proprietor a “seat at the table” during any major collaborative project which requires use of that technology.
Patent rights are also a highly desirable business asset to investors. Having a well drafted patent application that is directed to a company’s key technology, and is pending before the patent office of an important jurisdiction, can be an influential factor in determining whether that company successfully obtains the investment it needs to meet its business aims.
Thus, patents can be invaluable tools, whether you are looking to use them to stop other businesses exploiting your technology, looking to take a more collaborative approach with other companies, or looking for investment.
At Reddie & Grose, we have a wealth of experience in a wide range of patent strategies, and can help you develop a tailored strategy that can help your business make the most of this exciting time in the offshore wind sector.
This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.