Governing cross-border clean technology dissemination: Three scenarios

RegNet Informal Seminar


Dr Wenting Cheng


Seminar Room 1.13, Coombs Extension Building (8), Fellows Road, ANU


Tuesday, 31 March, 2020 - 12:30 to 13:30



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Promoting cross-border clean technology transfer has been a salient issue for mitigating and adapting to climate change. However, if these technologies are behind the paywall of patents, patent holders will be able to charge a monopoly price and the technology will not be disseminated at the optimal level.


This seminar will discuss three scenarios as “ideal types” to provoke thinking about available options for governing the cross-border clean technology dissemination surrounding intellectual property system: external restraints, internal balancing and IP expansion. External restraints refers to the prospect that multilateral environmental agreements would specify restrictions to the exclusivity of intellectual property of clean technology. Internal balancing refers to maximising the limitations and exceptions within the intellectual property system to balance the incentives for innovations and sufficient spillover benefits. IP expansion scenario is the prospect that intellectual property protection will expand, which will further restrain clean technology dissemination. Applications are further analysed for each scenario.

It is worth noting that there is no “keeping the status quo” scenario. After the Agreement on Trade-related Intellectual Property Right (TRIPS), trade negotiations were shifted to bilateral fora and most of them have included TRIPS-plus provisions. This means the default situation for international intellectual property law is not keeping the status quo but continuously reinforcing protection. In other words, if nothing is done we will end with the IP expansion scenario. On the other hand, failed attempts to incorporate limitations to intellectual property in multilateral environmental agreements also show the structural limitations of the external restraints. Therefore, it is recommended that states maximise flexibilities within the intellectual property system to safeguard cross-border clean technology dissemination.

About the speaker

Dr Wenting Cheng is a Grand Challenge Research Fellow for the Grand Challenge Project Zero Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific, based in the ANU College of Law. She completed her PhD at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) in 2018. Before completing her PhD, Wenting worked for government and NGOs. Her research interest includes law and technology and international trade and investment law in relation to renewable energy.




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