Clean technology has been a buzzword echoing in the minds of political leaders, economists and environmental advocates for several years, but a recent flurry of patenting activity among sustainable energy pioneers suggests that noble concepts are finally turning into material innovations.
Solar energy continues to dominate the conversation, according to Environmental Leader contributor John Lazurus, accounting for more than 30 percent of all patents granted in the cleantech space between 2008 and 2010. Wind power and hybrid vehicles have also garnered respectable shares of intellectual property interest, yet each of the three still retains a fair amount of "patentable white space," according to Lazurus, that could provide avenues for powerful investments.
With innovators barely scratching the surface of smart grid, geothermal, nuclear and biofuel IP potential, cleantech could soon see a swell of patent applicants hoping to be the first to file inventions that could transform the way industries and nations generate and distribute energy.
According to GigaOM, patent disputes in the cleantech industry have not reached the level of hostility seen in the mobile technology sector, but that could soon change as competition becomes more fierce. Earlier in the month, Honeywell's patent team filed suit against upstart smart thermostat manufacturer Nest, suggesting that industry veterans are already taking stock of their patent portfolios to ensure smaller competitors are not getting a leg up on crowding the marketplace.