IPR and Green Technologies - An Era of Sustainability and Innovation
“Healthy Environment implies a Happy Country”. Pollution, climate change, greenhouse effect, and depletion of the ozone layer are major environmental issues our country faces. Talking about the business perspectives, MNCs have started realizing these affect the environment and are a fundamental threat to the growth and development of the business and economy at large. Failure to realize the need to control the threat and effects on the economy can have a deep impact on the economy. On the occasion of World Environment Day 2021, we would like to draw your attention to some ways on how IPR World has shown keen interest in introducing Green IP.
Intellectual property rights are itself a Mega Star. It has contributed a lot in many sectors, and one such sector is environment and technological advancement. They are core to the advancement and development of technology as they are conceptualized in the form of proprietary rights. It gives space to many firms and MNCs which may further be transferred, licensed, assigned, and protected against infringement.
What do the TRIPS say?
Article 7 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) acknowledges this role of intellectual property rights:
"The protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations."
A deep understanding of the above articles emphasizes that the important reason for granting monopoly rights is the promotion of technological innovation for the benefit of the world, economy, and environment. That is why we have to understand the need to grow and protect Green technology through Green IP.
Green IP - A New Vision towards New Approach
Defining the theory of 'Green Intellectual Property' , we need to understand what Green IP means. It basically relates to protecting innovative products, technology, software, and other related things connected to green technology. These innovations are connected with environmentally friendly innovations, which are helpful to the environment in one, or the other way is legally protected.
Introduction of green technologies to protect the environment to reduce the environment’ due to various factors it is the need of the hour to take various measures and protocols for providing protection of green IP.
Fundamental Principles of Green IP: The prospect of green technology is below-mentioned:
- Sustainability– It promotes the use of natural resources in such a way without comprising for future generations.
- Cradle to cradle design– it means that using manufactured products by creating them reusable or fully reclaimed.
- Source reduction– using technology techniques for changing directions of production and consumption to reduce waste and pollution.
- Innovation– using technology as an alternative medium for natural resources that have been hazardous to health and the environment.
- Viability– creating a potential career by implementing economic activities, policies around technology that truly protect the planet.
Why do we need Green IP?
Limited resources and unlimited needs have led to a perfect imbalance in implementing the concept of sustainable development. The need to invent, develop and make IP systems more accessible calls for a better approach:
- To facilitate innovations in the field of green technologies.
- To distribute and promote green technologies worldwide.
- To allow the transfer of green technologies to other nations through various collaborations.
- To alleviate consumers to favor products and services which include green technologies.
When the statutory provisions are coupled with government initiatives, it is basically like a cherry on the cake. World-wide steps are taken to ensure Green IPs are given a commercial approach. A few of the initiatives taken are:
- Introduction of Green Patent Filing/ Application: The UK IP office, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Korean Patent Office, the Australian IP Office, the Japan Patent Office, and the Canadian IP Office.
- Pilot Programs to enhance the green patent application by the Brazilian National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI).
- Creation of database in the form of a repository having innovations related to green technologies.
- All green-tech innovations are protected through the development of ‘green intellectual property.’
- About 13 percent of India’s high-value patents are related to green tech, which is in line with the world average. Overall, India is not a leading inventor of green-tech systems, although it performs significantly better than other low- to middle-income nations.
- In 2013, India successfully filed 1,140 high-value green patents, while Brazil filed 300 and South Africa 150. China filed 16,000. The vast majority of green patents are concentrated across a few nations.
- In recent times, India has seen a surge in churning out green patents. In 2017, it gave out 2,505 green patents.
Ref.Source: WIPO- World Intellectual property rights.
How can IPR contribute towards the Initiative?
Yes, carbon-based energy and initiatives to protect the effects of climatic change have been considered globally, yet it is prima facie evidence to protect and preserve the limited natural resources and March towards sustainable development. Patents and Trade Secrets have major IP players in enhancing this concept. Read through the article to know more:
Patents and Environment:
Patents play an important role in enhancing innovation and develop Green Technology. Grant of patent protection to an inventor safeguards the novel and unique invention in terms of its originality and utility, developed to meet the exclusive specifications. Additionally, it works as a value–signal generator and further widens the scope for potential technology collaboration, which aids in technological diffusion and development.
Fast-tracking Green Patent Application: Promoting environmentally-friendly innovation has become a key priority in national and international environmental policy. Intellectual property (IP) regimes, particularly patent laws, are perhaps the most important of the regulatory vehicles that promote technological innovation. For this reason, several national IP offices have put in place measures to fast-track “green” patent applications. Under these programs, the time needed to obtain a patent can be significantly reduced – from several years to just a few months. As of 2015- 9 countries have adopted the system of Green IP Fast track application.
In India, an expedited review of a patent application according to Rule 24C of the 2003 Indian Patents Rules, which, to a large extent, allows organizations to reduce the time needed for examination, leading to the early disposal of patent applications. Recognizing that start-ups can drive sustainable economic development and build large-scale jobs, the 'Startup India' initiative of the Government of India has sought to create an ecosystem to strengthen such entities. However, India is yet to work on this system to bring Green IP under the purview of the Fast track application.
Trade secret comprises confidential information, proprietary knowledge, and technical know-how used by the businesses as an alternative option to commercially exploit technological developments. Trade Secrets are per se not protected in India as there exists no legislation on the same. However, Indian Courts have upheld trade secrets under various statutes, including the Indian Contract Act, Copyright Act, principles of equity, and at times the common law action of breach of confidential information.
Trade Secret in relation to green technology acts as fundamental for both the developed and the developing nations, and there exists a positive co-relation between R&D and trade secret protection. Without effective trade secret protection, companies may end up investing in the physical protection of their secrets rather than investing in technological innovations.
Initiatives to protect Green IP
It is as clear as daylight that to conserve the depleting natural resources which are not in abundance, a pro-active approach, and initiatives by the Governments in collaboration with the private sector are need of the hour.
- IPC Green Inventory
- Clean Energy Research Centre
- Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centre (JCERDC)
- Green Technology Pilot Programme
- The Eco-Patent Commons
Therefore, there exists an irresistible need to improvise, develop and make our IP system more accessible and facilitating across the globe by adopting the following approaches:
- To encourage innovations in the field of green technologies.
- To disseminate and promote green technologies worldwide.
- To encourage consumers to favor products and services which integrate green technologies.
- To permit the transfer of green technologies to other nations.
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