Geological research in Greenland has shown that a variety of metals, minerals and precious stones (including iron, lead, zinc, copper, gold, silver, rubies, sapphires, niobium, tantalum and zirconium) are present in the subsoil. Greenland has a bright future in the mineral resources sector and patent holders can be a part of it. In the past 10 years this research has led to the development of mining in Greenland and the government is working with major international mining companies. In addition, new national mining companies with considerable experience of working in the cold and challenging environment are emerging continually. 

Undoubtedly, this will require new and innovative solutions that can form the basis for patents. The numerous untapped resources present in Greenland are equal to the numerous patent opportunities available regarding a wide range of technologies, machinery, software and chemical processes related to the mining industry. Due to the abundant resources, local expertise and the fact that the potential in Greenland is not yet common knowledge worldwide, companies can take advantage of the opportunity to file and enforce new patents in Greenland.

In order to obtain a patent in Greenland, a company must apply for a patent in Denmark at the Danish Patent and Trademark Office. A Danish patent application automatically entails a Greenlandic patent application, and thus Greenlandic patents are subject to Danish law. When applying for a Danish and Greenlandic patent, the application can be filed in Danish or English, but the patent claims must be in Danish.

Greenland is not a member of the European Union or the European Patent Convention. Thus, although Denmark is an EU member state, a European patent application filed in Denmark will have no effect in Greenland. Thus, in order for a patent to enjoy protection in both Greenland and Denmark, a national application or an application via the Patent Cooperation Treaty system must be filed. In addition, Denmark is part of the Global Patent Prosecution Highway (GPPH) and has a Patent Prosecution Highway agreement with China. Thus, the Danish patent approval process is faster for applicants from other GPPH countries and China.

Once they have been secured, a company must ensure that it protects, monitors, enforces and defends its patents. However, it must also commercialise its intangible assets so that its knowledge, technology and ideas can be translated into a successful business.

Jesper Mark Wenzel

This article first appeared in IAM magazine. For further information please visit www.iam-magazine.com.