Clean technology can help states mitigate climate change, and intellectual property rights (IPR) influence the development and adoption of clean technology. While previous research recognizes the importance of IPR rules, it does not investigate how IPR rules influence the political incentives of states to support clean technology innovation. My formal analysis suggests that if a state is very interested in the public benefits of clean technology, such as improved environmental quality, stronger IPR rules may decrease technology innovation. With regard to practical policy implementation, the formal analysis indicates that (i) technology adoption subsidies should be negotiated in conjunction with IPR rules and (ii) a consideration of state incentives may alleviate the acrimonious North–South distributional conflict on IPR rules for clean technology. More broadly, I contribute to the literature on clean technology and climate policy by providing a unified analysis of state and company incentives.