Legal Rights

 IP rights include patents, trade secrets, copyrights, and trademarks.  In the development of algae-based fuels, the two most important legal rights for most companies will be patents and trade secrets.  Companies will need to take the proper steps to secure their ownership of the IP rights in the technologies they develop.

Algae fuel companies will in some cases acquire or use technology protected by the IP rights of others.  An algae fuel company that plans to utilize or acquire technology subject to third-party IP rights will want to conduct a thorough review of the rights claimed to be held by the third party.  The risk is that the third party may not hold all of the rights it purports to convey.  These issues should be considered prior to entering into any licensing agreement, as described in Chapter 4.

An algae fuel company seeking to develop technology will want to consider patent applications and records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office prior to investing a significant amount of money in research and development.  If similar technology already exists, it may be more cost effective to enter into a licensing arrangement.  Additionally, an understanding of what technology has already been developed or patented can be used as a tool to identify patent opportunities.

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