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Driving Green Futures: Celebrating World Intellectual Property Day with a Focus on Sustainable Patents

Patents play a complex role in green technology innovation. They undeniably stimulate innovation, potentially leading to more compelling technologies, price reductions, and increased accessibility. However, there are concerns that patents can create cost barriers and monopolies, hindering the widespread adoption of green technologies, especially in developing countries.

Initiatives like patent licensing pools and technology transfer schemes aim to balance these concerns and increase access to these innovations. Some patent offices and organizations provide incentives to support green technology development and adoption, encouraging R&D investments, collaborations, and funding.

WIPO GREEN is a public-private partnership established in 2013 to accelerate the development and deployment of green technologies in both developed and developing nations. It acts as a global marketplace, connecting innovators with partners to expedite knowledge transfer and bring green technologies to the forefront. WIPO GREEN provides an accessible database of green inventions and matches technology seekers with providers. Its acceleration projects connect developers of environmentally friendly technologies with those who need them.

WIPO GREEN’s initiatives aim to address critical environmental challenges, bridge the gap between innovation and real-world application, and foster economic opportunities. WIPO GREEN welcomes new members and partners from public and private sector organizations committed to reducing the effects of climate change.

Some national/regional patent offices also provide green-tech incentivizing programs. For example, the USPTO, Brazilian, Japanese, Australian, Republic of Korea, UK, and Israeli Patent Offices offer prioritized examination for eligible green-tech patent applications. Requirements and procedures vary by country, so consult a local agent for details.

Analysis of patent filings in green-tech related International Patent Classes (IPC) reveals a steady increase since 2014. This growth can be attributed to rising public awareness of climate change, the 2015 Paris Agreement, and technological innovation. Filing rates, however, have slowed since 2020 to date, likely due to the economic slowdown following the COVID-19 pandemic, in what appears as a move back in time towards 2017-2018 in Green-Tech’s innovation rate.

Examining more specific IPC classes, the slowdown appears most pronounced in water (treatment & control), solar energy, and agriculture-related inventions. Meanwhile, EV-related inventions show a steady growth until recent period (excluding 1.5 years publication uncertainty period). These trends may reflect changes in government policies, priorities, or continued investment in certain sectors in certain countries.

The overall slowdown in filings of Green-Tech related patent applications reflects changes in policies and public awareness in most countries. Climate change is a global issue and there is more to be done to restore attention and promote solutions of environmentally friendly and sustainability technologies, such as: encouraging international technology sharing and policy coordination to accelerate green-tech progress, and increase of R&D funding for promising green-tech sectors and providing additional incentives by Governments and public sector companies.

The information provided in this article does not constitute and is not intended to constitute legal advice. All information, content, and advice are for general informational purposes only. Nothing herein should replace information provided by a professional, and readers should consult with a professional in the field before initiating any legal proceedings.


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