Media reports re A123 System’s bankruptcy confirm that A123′s intellectual property is an important part throughout the lifecycle of a struggling company. While Johnson Controls was an initial suitor for A123′s assets, the Wanxiang Group is also now inserting itself into the bankruptcy proceeding. However, concern is present that the IP could “go to China.”
In any event, stay tuned. Emerging growth companies should recognize the value of IP thoughout corporate lifecycles, including bankruptcy. In the on-going debate about whether to file patent applications in China, the debaters should note key situations such as this A123 situation where Chinese companies and investors are critical factors.
Anyone interested in cleantech and China will want to review new reporting from the NY Times.
The upshot is China further expressly clarified its intent to push patenting radically, particularly in areas it has prioritized including cleantech and batteries. Patenting is not the same as innovation, but the two are linked.
Another good read on this subject is Thomas Friedman’s recently updated book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded, which starkly comments on such issues including whole sections on China and their growing cleantech industry.
The U.S., like any industrialized country, would be wise to use its nanotechnology prowess to also push cleantech.
Welcome to 2011!
China continues to grow, and the growth is impacting patenting. I was reminded of the importance of these trends during a recent visit from a Taiwanese law firm which also operates in China. In addition, the Economist recently reported on China’s patent efforts (Oct. 16-22 issue, pages 78-79).
One ignores these trends at one’s peril. Companies must shrewdly decide whether to seek to do business and obtain IP in China.
We can also see the coming impact on nanotechnology. The US PTO patent data base now lists 6,464 nanotech 977 class patents. Of these, only about 1 % (71) list an inventor who lists their residential address as China. However, of these 71 patents, roughly a quarter issued this year, and 50 out of 71 issued in the last four years (2007 to present).
According to the Economist:
Anxious to promote domestic innovation, the Chinese government has created an ecosystem of incentives for its people to file patents. However, concern exists that too many of the patents are “worthless” (and/or “junk”). The world also continues to watch IP damage awards in China, including that a firm from Wuhan has won $7m in a case against a company from Fujian and its Japanese supplier over the use of a process to clean sulfur.
Adding to the intrigue, China and Taiwan signed their first IP agreement on June 29, 2010. The agreement was modest but indicative.
One ignores these trends at one’s peril.