Status of Legal Challenges: Patents Related to the use of HFO1234YF in Auto Air Conditioning

One of the key challenges identified by Parties to the Montreal Protocol as part of the Dubai Pathway on Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) relates to concerns raised about intellectual property rights. Because a large number of patents on low global warming potential (GWP) chemical substitutes for HFCs have been filed by a few transnational companies, a number of developing countries (Article 5 Parties) have raised concerns that these could impede their ability to meet HFC reduction goals, significantly increase the costs of doing so, or put their industries at a competitive disadvantage. This paper seeks to address what has been described as the primary concern related to patents—even if chemical companies in Article 5 Parties can develop their own methods of producing HFOs, they would be prevented (absent a license) from selling their products at home and in key markets abroad in countries where application patents have been granted to other companies until the time when these patents expire.