Icelanders hold no patents for geothermal heat utilization methods in Iceland, and have no such patent applications in progress, RÚV reports. However, a number of patents in this sector are already owned by foreign entities and there are 45 additional, foreign-owned patent applications related to geothermal utilization under review at the Icelandic Patent Office even now.
This information was announced at a symposium on intellectual property rights within the geothermal sector that was hosted by the Icelandic Patent Office and the Ministry of Industries and Innovation on Friday. The purpose of the symposium was to urge companies in the geothermal and energy industries to consider the importance of knowledge and ingenuity in their fields, as well as the importance of protecting intellectual property so as to remain competitive in the industry.
During the event, Borghildur Erlingsdóttir, the Director General of the Icelandic Patent Office, presented a number of patents related to utilizing geothermal energy in Iceland. There are currently 15 such patents in the country, none of which are owned by Icelandic entities. An additional 45 foreign-owned patent applications are under review at the Patent Office.
“So the worry has to do with why were aren’t there, because it’s great industry,” said Borghildur. “It’s clearly an intellectual property industry. We stand at the forefront of research and development in this field and even ahead of many other countries. So, of course, we’ve got to be there.”
Borghildur said that she has no explanation for why leading power companies in Iceland, such as national provider Landsvirkjun, don’t apply for patents. She says, however, that efforts are being made to draw their attention to the matter. She went on to explain that it is very easy for foreign parties to apply for patents in Iceland—just as easy as it is for Icelanders to apply for patents abroad.
If it happens that the majority of geothermal utilization patents are owned by foreign entities in Iceland, it could have serious ramifications for the local industry.
“It could bring about a number of consequences,” Borghildur explained. “Among them that those parties who are in this field here in Iceland may have less freedom to work and less elbow room to undertake research and development without potentially violating infringing upon those who have more established rights.”