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World Intellectual Property Day: Unleashing Sustainable Innovation Through IP

World Intellectual Property Day: Unleashing Sustainable Innovation Through IP

News 26/04/2024

Every year on April 26th, World Intellectual Property Day (WIPD) serves as a global celebration of the power of ideas. This year’s theme, “Intellectual Property and the Sustainable Development Goals: Building our future with innovation and creativity,” resonates deeply. It compels us to recognise the critical role intellectual property (IP) plays in fostering solutions for a more sustainable tomorrow.


Global Collaboration: A Patent Ecosystem for Sustainability

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), along with regional bodies like the European Patent Office (EPO) and the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), are instrumental in shaping the global IP landscape. They work tirelessly to establish robust frameworks and foster international cooperation. This collaborative spirit is vital for encouraging innovation that transcends geographical boundaries.


Patents Propelling Progress: Statistics and Case Studies

The power of IP in driving sustainable innovation is evident in real-world examples and statistics. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), international patent filings in 2022 reached a record high, with over 640,000 PCT patent applications submitted. Notably, a sizeable portion of these filings are focused on technologies related to sustainability, particularly in areas like clean energy. This trend is further corroborated by the European Patent Office's (EPO) Patent Index 2023 which reports a 12.2% increase in patent applications for electrical machinery, apparatus, and energy in 2023 – a field that encompasses clean energy technologies, including batteries (which saw a 28% growth).  The EPO also reports that overall European patent applications in 2023 reached a record high of 199,275, reflecting a continued rise in innovation across various sectors.


“This surge in sustainable technology patents signifies a growing recognition that innovation is key to overcoming our environmental challenges,” observes Charlotte Watkins, Partner at Secerna.

“The IP system, when utilised strategically, can incentivise further research and development in these crucial areas.”


The Earthshot Prize and CIPA Collaboration

Prince William's Earthshot Prize stands as a beacon of hope in the fight against climate change. Established in 2020, the Prize recognizes and awards groundbreaking solutions for environmental challenges aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the Earthshot Prize recognizes the critical role of intellectual property (IP) protection for these innovations. This understanding led to a strategic collaboration with the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA), and is proving instrumental in propelling sustainable solutions forward.

One crucial aspect of CIPA's involvement is safeguarding innovations. A team of volunteer Chartered Patent Attorneys works behind the scenes on the IP due diligence process for shortlisted Earthshot Prize finalists. This ensures strong intellectual property protection for their solutions, maximizing their environmental impact.

Furthermore, CIPA's recent designation as an Official Nominator allows it to leverage its extensive network, broadening the scope of the Earthshot Prize by potentially uncovering a wealth of innovative solutions from a wider pool of eco-conscious entrepreneurs.

Take, for example, a 2023 Earthshot Prize finalist like Colorifix, nominated by CIPA. Its revolutionary method for replacing harmful chemicals with biological alternatives in textile dyeing exemplifies the value of this collaboration. CIPA empowers innovators like Colorifix by providing expert guidance on securing patents and other forms of IP protection. This allows innovators to focus on development and commercialization, confident their technology is shielded.


Beyond Patents: A Holistic Approach to Sustainable IP

Secerna’s collaboration with Xeros Technology Group PLC exemplifies the importance of geographically-strategic IP protection. By securing patents in key markets like China, the United States, and the European Union, we helped solidify protection for their innovative XOrb technology. As Xeros Global IP Director, Gordon Ellis highlights, a particular highlight of the partnership has been the granting of these XOrb patents. XOrbs permit cleaning and textile treatments using less energy, less water and less detergent, all while improving fabric life and colour retention. This translates to significant environmental benefits through reduced water usage and less frequent clothing replacement. Importantly, these grants have not been limited to major markets. Secerna has also collaborated with Xeros to secure patents in strategically important, yet often challenging regions, such as India, Australia, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina. This comprehensive global IP strategy positions Xeros for wider adoption and a measurable positive impact on global laundry practices.


The Road Ahead: Fostering a Sustainable Future Through IP

As we celebrate WIPD 2024, let us embrace the theme with unwavering commitment. By leveraging the power of IP, fostering international collaboration, and strategically protecting sustainable innovations, we can collectively build a brighter future for generations to come. IP serves not just as a shield for innovations but also as a springboard, propelling them forward and paving the way for a more sustainable world.

Ready to embark on your patent journey with confidence? Our team of commercially focused Chartered & European Patent Attorneys, operating across the UK and Europe, brings more than just legal expertise to the table. We boast a deep understanding of your industry and its challenges, ensuring your patent protections align seamlessly with your business goals.


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