World Intellectual Property Day – April 26, 2020: Innovate for a Green Future


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Jane Lambert

On 26 April of each and every year, the world's intellectual property practitioners celebrate World Intellectual Property Day. It falls on the anniversary of the day the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization ("WIPO") came into force.  Each year the day has a different theme.  The theme for 2020 is "Innovate for a Green Future,"

According to the WIPO's World IP Day index page:

"We explore how a balanced and robust IP system can support the emergence of a green economy that works with and not against the earth’s life-support systems.

We look at how the patent system fosters innovation and the development and diffusion of eco-friendly technologies that enable us tackle the climate crisis and build a green future; how design thinking and design rights together support the optimal use of resources and enable designers to invest their time and talent in creating useful, attractive and eco-friendly products for consumers.

We consider how trademarks and other identifiers support the emergence and growth of businesses built on principles of environmental sustainability, enabling them to offer a broader range of eco-friendly products and services.

We see how rights, such as geographical indications are encouraging more sustainable natural resource use and how plant-breeding rights. are promoting the development of more resilient crops in support of global food security.

And we observe how creators – who through the copyright system can earn a living from their work – can play a key role in creating a vision of a green future and its untold benefits."

In the United Kingdom inventors can apply for accelerated processing of their patent applications through what is known as the "Green Channel" if their inventions are likely to benefit the environment.  Applications must be made in writing and should state:
  • How the invention is environmentally-friendly.
  • Which actions the applicant wishes to accelerate, namely: search, examination, combined search and examination, and/or publication.
Although applications are not vetted, an invention that is not obviously environmentally friendly may be challenged.  If the applicant's response is unsatisfactory, the application may be refused.   The Intellectual Property Office maintains a database of published Green Channel applications. 

The WIPO operates an online market place known as WIPO Green which puts providers and seekers of environmentally friendly technologies in touch with each other.   

As for providers, "green technology inventors, entrepreneurs, and companies can list their products on the WIPO Green database to give them global visibility, helping to attract partners and finance." For seekers, "organizations seeking eco-friendly technology solutions can use the WIPO GREEN database to publicize their needs and try to find a match. 

The database is also a useful tool for investors looking to make green tech deals as it provides access to technologies and entrepreneurs from around the world." 

The website adds that "the WIPO Green network provides exciting opportunities for collaboration and partnership by bringing together a range of key stakeholders, such as multinational companies, academic and research institutions, intergovernmental organizations, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)."

The database discloses 388 inventions in  the following fields:
  • Energy (182)
  • Pollution & Waste (88)
  • Water (56)
  • Farming & Forestry (55)
  • Green Products (38)
  • Transportation (21)
  • Chemicals & Advanced Materials (15)
  • Building & Construction (10)
  • Other Areas (2).
Isreal is the top contributor with 60 inventions followed by the USA (59), China (27), Japan (19) and Switzerland (17). I could find only one entry from the UK, namely an activated filter media offered by Advanced Water Treatment Technologies Ltd of London,

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or green innovation generally should call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 or send me a message through my contact form.

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