Carbon capture technologies generally pertain to the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) by certain materials or systems. Such materials or systems can then process the captured CO2 in various manners, such as through storage at a remote site, chemical conversion, or secondary uses.
In view of global efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, carbon capture technologies have found numerous commercial applications. Patent protection can help facilitate and incentivize such commercialization efforts by providing exclusivity.
In the United States, utility patents provide protection for any “new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.”  During the term of a patent, patent holders can exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, or selling any patented invention in the United States, and importing any patented invention into the United States.
A proper patent protection strategy can help maximize the commercialization potential of a carbon capture technology. In devising such a patent protection strategy, patent applicants should at least consider the following guidelines:
- Conduct prior art searches before seeking patent protection;
- File a patent application before any sales or public disclosures;
- Start patent protection early by filing a provisional patent application;
- Continue patent protection by filing an international patent application;
- Claim different aspects of the carbon capture technology;
- Emphasize the unpredictable aspects of the carbon capture technology; and
- Consider modes of protection other than utility patents.