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Free Patent Details Revealed By Bosch, Du Pont and Xerox

Bosch, Du Pont and Xerox have joined the Eco Patent Commons, an international effort to speed up the progress of sustainable development.

Their paticipation brings the number of free patents available for use by anyone in the world to 69, more than doubling the original number.

Hosted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) the Commons was established in January this year by IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes and Sony in response to a growing dilemma among large businesses.

Many find that during their research and development processes they discover new environmentally friendly techniques or processes which are then subsequently patented.

However as that technique is not part of the company’s core business it is often passed over for development into an actual product and instead remains just part of that company’s internal processes.

The programme’s aim is to allow such patents to be used under licence but without cost. This in turn enables other companies to benefit from these techniques at a fraction of the cost, thus fostering innovation and shortening future product lifecycles.

Companies pledging their patents to the programme are protected by a mutual agreement not to sue each another for breach of the patents while they remain a member of the Commons.

Do you think this is a worthwhile development, or just an opportunity for companies to greenwash by hiving off commercially unproductive parts of their system?  Please add a comment below and let us know!

Related Content:
Is an out of control patent law system slowing growth of green products?
Green Patents That are Free to All: Eco-Patent Commons

Written by Chris Milton

is a seasoned sustainability journalist focusing on business, finance and clean technology. His writing's been carried by a number of highly respected publishers, including The Guardian, The Washington Post and Scientific American. You can follow him on twitter as @britesprite, where he's one of Mashable's top green tweeters and Fast Company's CSR thought leaders. Alternatively you can follow him to the shops... but that would be boring.

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