Patent-holders on expert committees. Can there be a conflict of interest?
The presence of experts holding patents and simultaneously providing policy advice on areas in which they hold these patents poses several normative questions. Through a comparative study of several IPCC reports, this article documents the scope of this phenomenon and discusses it with respect to a theory of conflict of interest. A review of IPCC writing teams suggests that the presence of patent-holders is largest on issues of infrastructure, industry and transport rather than single technologies. According to insights from studies on conflict of interest, the presence of patent-holders creates an increased risk of bias. This article investigates the possible link between patenting and conflicts of interest, according to theoretical and empirical insights into the relationship between science and society.