Offshore Energies Magazine - Issue 55 Spring 2023

have reached the end of their lives. This is very much the argument of the North Sea Transition Authority (3), which set a target to reduce decommissioning cost estimates by 35% in 2021. Some may consider this a challenge to the industry, perhaps even a call to arms. Either way, the UK is in a prime position to respond. The maturity of the North Sea basin compared to other offshore locations around the world is a playground for innovators and presents a great opportunity to pioneer new methods of decommissioning. The UK can become world leaders in the technology that is so desperately needed worldwide. With innovation, commercial success is likely to follow, and it is vital to safeguard that commercial success and secure revenue for the future with a well-thought-out strategy for IP. The oil and gas industry is familiar with IP protection. At the 2019 Oil & Gas IP Summit, 82% of responding attendees said that the board of their company valued IP

as an asset (4). A highly mobile workforce makes it hard to keep trade secrets for long. Combined with a set of challenges to overcome that will generally be consistent across all research and development departments in every company, it is likely that competitors will arrive at the same solutions. Patent protection is there to ensure that if you get there first, you can have a say on who can make use of your methods and you can also legally shield yourself against rivals’ attempts to reverse engineer your solutions. Furthermore, patents are a form of property and so are an asset which can be sold or licenced to other companies. This means companies can monetize their IP even if they are not implementing it themselves. It also enables IP sharing between companies, important for collaboration, while providing clarity about IP ownership. For example, companies can assign or licence patented technology to a joint venture. Careful management of a patent portfolio during the lifetime of a joint venture means that the participating companies

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