Authors: Amit Koshal, Prayank Khandelwal, Tanya Kukade

It is believed that development often comes at the cost of the environment. We cannot disagree with the fact that man’s modern lifestyle has continued to impact the environment in unfathomable ways, which has led to the growing need for environment friendly technologies or green technologies. The growing role of Intellectual Property (IP) in climate change and sustainability is being discussed worldwide and WIPO also seeks to facilitate international policy dialogue.

Countries worldwide have been progressing on the path of sustainability by innovating and introducing environment friendly technology and granting IP protection, few examples of which include –

  1. Biodegradable Bags for Food Packaging – The biodegradable bags are created by avoiding use of petroleum products made of a biodegradable polymer layers, heat sealed to resist oxygen and vapour and are readily degraded my micro-organisms in soil or water. The biodegradable bags bear patent publication number EP1369227B1 in the name of Ishida Seisakusho Co. Ltd.
  2. Dissolvable Tags – Water soluble tags registered in US bearing number US2017270833A1, indicating tags made of a soluble substrate and use of soluble printing ink.
  3. Edible Spoons – The introduction of edible spoons as substitutes to plastic spoons, made out of rice, wheat and sorghum flour in the shape of common spoons are meant to reduce the production and utilisation of plastic, further details and design of which can be found under publication number CN107581860A registered to Li Yubao.
  4. Environment friendly energy material preparation flow – The invention relates to a process of centralized treatment of starch from household garbage to prepare a substitute of plastic in order to address the garbage disposal issues surrounding most communities registered to Hefei Hanpeng New Energy Co. Ltd under publication number CN109054108A.
  5. Smog Free Tower – An invention meant for controlling smog through an equipment sculpture tower with an air inlet cover which sucks in the air from the surroundings and purifies it by an exhaust with high speed. Registered to Henan Network Tech Co. Ltd. under publication number CN109821331A.
  6. Natural gas boilers – These boilers utilise natural gas or propane to heat water and contain an outlet for smoke, containing a smoke purifying device which purifies the Oxynitride in the smoke, registered to Beijing Hengzhi Hongye Energy Science and Tech Co. Ltd. under patent publication number CN203572011U.
  7. Smartflower – It is a solar power generation device comprising a sunlight tracking device and a solar power generation mechanism. It is also equipped for harsh weather conditions with a mechanism to contract thus prolonging its service life, registered to Zhengzhou Network Tech Co. Ltd. under publication number CN107919850A.
  8. The Tree Vent – Invented by a French company NewWind, is an aero-generator meant to function in low-wind environments. It consists of a tree like structure with a plurality of branches with turbines meant for harvesting wind energy, each turbine characterized with an axis of rotation registered under publication number FR2988144B1.
  9. Flood Monitoring and Management System – Patented system under One Concern Inc. (US) bearing publication number WO2019204254A1 which combines technology and weather forecasts to predict and provide an estimated recovery formulation based on a hydraulic model. The system is facilitating to safeguard the surrounding regions from unmonitored flood-like situations.

These are small scale replacements introduced in numerous countries, although the advance in shifting from conventional sources of energy, electricity, fuel to non-conventional and sustainable solutions has been fast-paced. Technology is being utilized to clean rivers such as the underwater land-mowers, irrigate vast lands, introduce substitutes for pollination and planting, creating controlled environments for the growth of plants and eliminating diseases and threats in their growth. Although one would be shocked to know that the percentage of such innovations which are protected or registered under IP is still at a minimal.

With the shifting focus of individuals and countries worldwide to adopting sustainable solutions while focussing on economic growth, the need for protecting the innovations and processes is only highlighted. Researchers and innovators need to be incentivised in order to ensure development and progress, the threat of losing rights over one’s hard-work would only haunt them and thus, greater access to IP protection would play an important role in enabling innovators to focus on the real goal.

Patent system is seen as a hurdle towards technology development by developing countries as they often fall prey to monopolised processes, acquiring which becomes tremendously difficult from the developed countries in order to meet their development goals while ensuring sustainable actions. It is important to note that, Indian Patent Office (IPO) has amended the Patent Rules and now one can get a grant in just one year! Making it the fastest patent office in the world.

Even though India has readily adopted the goal of shifting towards sustainable solutions by innovative processes like e-filing and e-certificates. It is to be noted that the we still lack awareness regarding the scope and protection available through IP and thus fail to safeguard processes and technologies from developed countries or the technology scavengers spread across the world. Patents must not be granted to necessary inventions in light of ensuring access to developing countries although they cannot be completely avoided in light of the rights and interests of the innovators. This dilemma can only be solved by ensuring a balance between the two in light of development and progress of the economies.

About: amitkoshal