Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
This paper explores the characteristics of 238 patents on 90 inventions contributed by major multinational innovators to the "Eco-Patent Commons", which provides royalty-free access to third parties to patented innovations on green technologies. We compare the pledged patents to other patents in the same technologies or held by the same multinationals to investigate the motives of the contributing firms as well as the potential for such commons to encourage innovation and diffusion of climate change related technologies. We find pledged patents to protect environmentally friendly technologies and to be of similar value as the average patent in a pledging firm's patent portfolio but of lower value than other patents in their class. Our analysis of the impact of the patent commons on diffusion of patented technologies suggests that making patents accessible royalty-free did not result in any significant increase in diffusion as measured by citing patents. This study, therefore, indirectly provides evidence on the role of patents in the development and diffusion of green technologies. (C) 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.