Cities look to IP for answers as they feel the heat

Those of us living in Europe will not be surprised to hear that our cities are getting hotter. Whether you’re currently enjoying the summer or, like me, scurrying between patches of shade and air-conditioned buildings, the trend in global temperature cannot be denied, with the earth set to warm by 2◦C by the end of this century. The 10 hottest years on record have all been within the past 15 years, and with denser populations and energy networks, cities suffer worst from the increase due to the heat island effect: The air temperature of a city with 1 million inhabitants can be between 1-3◦ C warmer than its surroundings.

So, how are cities fighting back against the rising temperatures?

 There are several methods used to attempt to reduce city temperatures, and in terms of IP there are 2 core technologies included in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s 5 main strategies on dealing with the heat island effect: Cool roofs and cool pavements, both achieved using heat and radiation reflecting coatings.

Companies and organisations looking for solutions to the rising mercury can find a valuable resource of information in patent literature.

Starting with a keyword search to look for reflective coatings, class codes for the technology area were identified along with additional keywords used to refine the search criteria. Using PatBase or similar tools allows multiple insights to be gained on the topic, showing the key players and jurisdictions involved in leading these technologies forward. Included among these results are patents for reflective glass-granule substrates to reflect light, weather resistant coatings designed for use within solar panelling and stealth paint designed to hide spy-craft from infra-red sensors, an excellent example of a patent describing a technology to solve one problem that can be repurposed as a solution for an entirely different scenario. An excellent example of these coatings is the Chinese patent application: CN20181172242 applied for in March this year.

The city of Los Angeles is investigating how the coating can be applied to road surfaces, as well as roofs and walkways, replacing their traditional (and absorptive!) black asphalt to reflect the light falling upon it and reducing the ambient temperature by up to 5.5◦C. The initiative forms part of a scheme to make Los Angeles 1.67◦C cooler over the next 20 years.

Using the inbuilt analytics engine to assess the obtained results from our search, we can also retrieve information about the key players within the technology field. To date the key jurisdictions are the USA, the WIPO, the EPO, Germany and China.

That the US is in top position is not surprising, as two of the major players within the field, Certainteed Corp and 3M are US corporations, with Certainteed possessing more than twice the patent families within the space as their nearest rival 3M. It is worth noting however that while Certainteed possesses more families than its competitor, 3M as a multinational is protecting their IP across more of the major jurisdictions, being the only assignee to appear in the top 5 patenting entities across all 5 primary issuing authorities:

 

It’s not surprising that it’s countries like China and N.America, that are the key players devising these solutions to the heat problem, as each possess cities that can push up to 40◦ C such as Chongqing in China or Yuma in the USA. Germany’s appearance amongst the top 5 may be in part due to the German government’s continued subsidies for renewable energy technologies, and whilst installation peaked in 2012 the extension of the scheme into 2018 makes Germany a valuable market for solar vendors to operate in for the near future.[1]

Using Minesoft’s suite of patent searching tools, you can easily search for and identify patents for a range of technologies and processes, including keeping your cool! Accessing this trove of potential solutions can help companies and governments gain insight into how others are tackling an issue to inform their own responses. With over 60 full text collections including original Non-Latin data PatBase can provide access to all patent literature generated from these key jurisdictions.

In just a few minutes, PatBase has helped me to identify key players in the space for licensing agreements to the latest technologies and locate expired IP that is open for utilisation. Whether you have a practical problem to solve, valuable IP you wish to keep track of or competitors to monitor, Minesoft’s solutions have you covered.

Visit us at www.minesoft.com today to find out more.

[1]: https://www.icis.com/resources/news/2018/04/04/10208678/german-solar-power-growth-to-reach-2-5gw-target-this-year-or-next/

Reflective asphalt: (US2013160675A)