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This paper addresses what has been described as a primary concern related to patents: even if chemical companies in Montreal Protocol Article 5 Parties can develop their own methods of producing low-GWP refrigerant hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) or using them in the products they make, they could be prevented (absent a license) from selling their products at home and in key markets abroad in countries where restrictive patents have been granted to other companies, at least until the time when challenges to patents are decided or these patents expire.

This paper reviews the status of patents granted on HFO-1234yf in automotive air conditioning (AC) in the US, Europe, and China, covering the largest automotive manufacturing regions in the world. This paper primarily focuses on patents on the use of HFO-1234yf in automobiles, as opposed to patents on the manufacture of HFO-1234yf.

Patents and other intellectual property such as know how are a complex issue for policy makers and civil society experts, especially considering the large number of patents involved and the sensitivity and confidentiality around licensing agreements. This paper does not attempt to find a solution to the patent debate. Rather, it examines developing country experiences in dealing with patents during earlier transitions under Montreal Protocol as well as highlights the key issues faced by Indian industry and policy makers.

Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer are considering actions to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) because of their contributions to climate change. One important issue raised by Article 5 Parties1 is the concern that patents on recently developed low-global warming alternatives could restrict access to or increase the costs of transitioning to these substitutes. This paper looks at how issues related to patents have previously impacted the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances by Article 5 Parties with a focus on the role played by the Protocol’s Multilateral Fund.