Spreading green IoT tech through mechanisms of sharing intellectual property
Examensarbete för masterexamen
If IoT tech is spread and utilized on a broad scale in manufacturing, it has the capacity to heavily reduce energy consumption. Through the reduction of energy consumption, the Global e-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) and Accenture (2015) estimates that IoT tech can reduce the global greenhouse gas emissions by 4.4 % in 2030. In this setting, IoT tech should be classified as green technology, according to the UN´s definition from (1992). Green technologies, such as green IoT is often proprietary to the innovator through patents. A patent is a negative right, preventing others from practicing the patented invention (Morrison, 2020). In this way, the patent system promotes innovation, since it rewards innovators investment with commercial possibilities through patents (Kitch, 1977). Standard essential patents (SEPs) are patents for technologies deemed to be essential for the functionality of other technologies within the technological field. These are common in the IoT and ICT industry and effectively made accessible through licensing terms which are Fair, Reasonable and Non-discriminatory (FRAND) (Blind, Gauch, & Hawkins, 2010). In IoT all technological elements are not deemed to be standard essential. Hence, all the technologies are not effectively made accessible and spread through FRAND (Trappey, Trappey, Govindarajan, Chuang, & Sun, 2017). To enable IoT to make its environmental benefits in manufacturing, this thesis aimed to answer the question of how companies that have a solution to make manufacturing more sustainable through IoT can create effective intellectual property sharing initiatives to allow their technology to be utilized on a broader scale. To answer the question, past green tech sharing initiatives were investigated through a literature review. Opinions on spreading green tech and green IoT manufacturing technology in particular were also generated and analyzed from intellectual property professionals through semi-structured interviews. The results suggest that to reach broad spread and usage of the computational layer of IoT, through sharing mechanisms of intellectual property rights, there must be mutual benefit, with low risks of economic backlashes for the patent holder of the technology, the licensor, and the user of the technology, the licensee. Furthermore, ambiguities around the technologies value, licensing terms, successfulness of technology transfer and the technology scope must be dealt with through an effective sharing mechanism of IoT patents. A semi-open patent strategy, with standardized licensing terms, a cost reduction percentage-based payment model, inclusion of know-how and with technology implementation is suggested by the results to be the most suitable mechanism to generate value for the licensee and licensor while also mitigating risks concerning mentioned ambiguities. Thus, spreading green IoT and allowing it to generate value and environmental benefits. This study can be used by companies in possession of green tech solutions characterized by software to enable a broad usage of their patents, thus generating value environmental benefits.
green tech, patent sharing initiative, spreading technology, technology diffusion, technology transfer, green IoT