Climate Change: The Need for Pro-Inventor Legislation (PIL)

03/10/2015 02:57 pm ET | Updated May 10, 2015

This post makes the case for a new role for government in the context of technology innovation that impacts climate change.

In particular, inventors and new innovative and truly disruptive energy generation and distribution devices and technologies need additional protection.

Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) and Innovation

There is a thesis of how M&A in the context of innovation works (we presume that incumbents will fully grasp the market threat of the innovation) -- namely, that if a startup company comes to market with a truly innovative disruptive product that threatens not only the market share of leading incumbents but also presents a strong case to revolutionize the market and put the competing incumbents out of business, the likelihood is that the incumbent(s) will:

(1) acquire that startup company and incorporate its new product into its existing product line (often not an easy thing to do) with an eye to monetization, or

(2) acquire and shelve the disruptive product, to study it, make improvements to it, and see what barriers to entry the incumbent can create to make sure that no additional third party comes up with a similar idea, or

(3) in the worst case, acquire the startup company, its team, its product(s) and all related intellectual property (IP) with the intention of removing the market threat by quashing the company, its product and related IP immediately upon acquisition.

This carries serious implications for climate change.

In allowing incumbents unfettered acquisition leeway with respect to new disruptive energy generation and distribution devices and technologies, we are inviting the fox into the innovation chicken coop.

The Need for Pro-Inventor Legislation (PIL)

Pro-inventor legislation (PIL) will not be easy to draft, much less to get approved by Congress.

How will truly disruptive innovation be identified? How can inventors be encouraged to trust government, which is often viewed as the handmaiden of well-financed incumbents? Do we actually need PIL, with a plethora of new energy devices and ideas entering the market place daily?

Many will argue that the roll-out of solar energy and startup companies like Tesla Motors, are changing the face of energy globally. This may be true, but the fact remains that the cumulative impact of all the new alternative and renewable energy initiatives combined, have not made a significant dent in our global carbon-based energy paradigm.

Given the seriousness of climate change and treating time as an enemy, we cannot afford to have the clean energy ideas of our most creative inventors and entrepreneurs delayed, blocked or altogether removed from the market, because they disrupt carbon-driven energy incumbents' market share and profit margins.

PIL is really about creating a level playing field for innovation, and market place penetration of that innovation.

What government supports and protects in the context of intellectual property, legislation and policy, must be for the good of startups and individual clean energy inventors, entrepreneurs and mankind, at least to the same extent that government has for decades served the interests of the powerful carbon-driven energy side of the equation.

The Silver Bullet

The silver bullet is that invention that will serve as the catalyst for global exponential change, the first domino toward full introduction of a global clean energy matrix to replace our dependence on carbon-driven energy.

Many will argue that such an invention is ridiculous to think about. That it does not exist.

Two hundred years ago, the same could have been said about electricity.

If we take climate change seriously, then we must insist on all innovations being positioned to have global impact, including the so-called silver bullet.

We have to assume that the silver bullet is out there, even if we can't see it or even imagine it.

We simply need to make sure that the inventor and/or entrepreneur who finds it has (1) adequate protection, and (2) support to get that invention into the global marketplace.

The idea of PIL is complex.

This, however, is a mirror reflection of the complexity of the global carbon-driven energy matrix.

For those who would support a clean energy paradigm for our planet, mastering that complexity and considering PIL represent crucial steps for the climate change movement.