Technology transfer provisions remain in UNCLOS and will act as a deterrent to further research and investment
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The problem of intellectual property protections was supposedly solved in the 1994 agreement, but it is vague, and the Authority’s latent powers remain to make it a continuing issue. Sponsoring states are still required to facilitate technology transfer “if the Enterprise or developing states are unable to obtain” the advanced equipment commercially. Thus, if a contractor develops a breakthrough mining technology, it will be compelled to sell it commercially to rivals or face the prospect of giving it away to the Enterprise (a direct competitor) and developing states. Neither of these options will be attractive to an entrepreneurial company, thereby further deterring investment in deep sea mining Research and Development. (Defense technology transfers are also a concern, but beyond the scope of this study.
Although the 1994 treaty modifications have toned down some of the most direct mandatory technology transfer requirements, the treaty still places at risk some very sensitive, and militarily useful, technology which may readily be misused by the navies of ocean mining states.