In the World of Green Patents, Does Chaos Equal Opportunity?

In the World of Green Patents, Does Chaos Equal Opportunity?

by: The Real Law Editorial Team

Few industries present as much promise as green technology. And few industries are in such need of legal help. As a result, making green products or generating energy in more efficient and environmentally friendly ways is a mix of opportunity and confusion that any lawyer-particularly any patent lawyer-should know more about. One particularly interesting and relatively untapped corner of the green technology market is green buildings.

Every Building Is a Unique Snowflake

Celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright suggested that buildings should be "qualified by light, bred by native character to environment, married to the ground." Each one should be adapted to its particular situation. In the drive to create buildings perfectly suited to their environments, architects and engineers are innovating like crazy, creating structures both beautiful and strange. More and more often, they are developing entirely new approaches to deal with the unique challenges that each project presents. For example, a few projects have already tried out concrete that eats pollution. There are roof shingles that double as solar panels. Many innovations are specific to the needs of one building, such as the adaptive shades that keep the Al Bahar Towers in Abu Dhabi cool. This emerging field of green building represents a potential bonanza of innovation-and patents.

The Golden Green Building Opportunity

Many kinds of lawyers already work in this field. Companies can hire them to identify and manage the risks inherent in green building. Lawyers can also help their clients navigate the complex layers of taxes and exemptions that apply to green buildings, and can consult on the potential benefits that green technologies can bring to a project's efficiency and marketability. They can also look at a project and see what it might mean for potential patents. As construction attorney Christopher G. Hill describes it, "We're using old materials in new ways and using new materials that hadn't been used before in these types of projects." Any typical green construction project may be a source of patentable ideas. The materials, protective coatings and designs can all lead to identifying new white spaces or green fields in the patent market.

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