The green trend is proving to be a red-hot breeding ground for innovation, and several multinational companies are willing to open their patent vault to encourage more development of renewably-sourced, environment-friendly, emission and waste-reducing, more energy-efficient, solution-providing...[ok, I'll stop now] products and processing.
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in partnership with Nokia, IBM, Sony and Pitney Bowes launched the Eco-Patent Commons where companies can pledged patents that provide solutions addressing several environmental issues.
The Commons will be open to everybody through a search website hosted by the WBCSD. Here's a video by IBM (including a few minutes of self-promoting ad) explaining how this program works.
Unfortunately for the chemical industry, IBM's example of their free patents seems to involved more on reducing the use of chemicals in their products. On the other hand, the industry can use this opportunity to broadcast a greener image by pledging a patent [or two] that promotes sustainable chemistry.