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Eco-Patents Commons Grows with Addition of Ricoh, Taisei

Two more companies became members today of the Eco-Patent Commons, bringing the total number of companies giving away patented technologies with environmental applications to nine.

Ricoh, the international manufacturer of copiers, printers and office products, and Taisei Corporation, a Japanese engineering firm, both pledged new patents to the group. In addition, current member DuPont released seven additional patents to the Commons, bringing the total number of patents available for free use around the world to 93.

The Eco-Patent Commons is a not-for-profit organization hosted by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and spearheaded by IBM. When it launched in January 2008, I interviewed IBM's Wayne Balta about the launch of the project, which at the time had four companies involved. In September 2008, three more companies signed on and added 53 additional patents to the list.

The latest additions include a technology from Ricoh to reduce waste from cartridges used in various imaging devices, including copiers, printers and fax machines. The technology allows cartridges to be recycled safely by counting the number of times of use and alerting a user if a cartridge exceeds the limit of its duration.

And from Taisei come two patents: one improves water quality on construction sites by using porous concrete blocks to construct a green space surrounded by water; the patent involves using porous water-permeable concrete blocks to build an outer frame that houses microorganisms that help degrade any environmental pollutants from the site. Taisei's other patent involves a shallow water purification method that can purify shallow water regions of lakes and reservoirs by pumping air through tubes to create water circulation in shallow water regions to help maximize water purification effect.

In addition to the new contributions, DuPont pledged seven additional patents to the Commons, all of which involve the use of more environmentally beneficial refrigerants use in air conditioning and refrigeration.

The online home for the Eco-Patent Commons is hosted on the WBCSD website: At that site you can get an overview of the project as well as search or browse all the 93 patents currently released by their original patent holders. An overview brochure about the Commons is also available for download from

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