Tomorrow Investor

Can Managing Intellectual Property Play a Role in Sustainability?


There is no question that climate change has profoundly impacted both commerce and industry, affecting various sectors worldwide. However, national and corporate leaders still seem to be at a stalemate about how best to deal with the issue. 

Specifically, given the diverse factors coming into play, there is no consensus on addressing the pressing need to mitigate the adverse effects of damage to the environment. 

One such factor is innovation – and with it the importance of intellectual property management in the context of sustainability. Whenever anyone comes up with an innovative solution to a critical issue such as waste management or the replacement of fossil fuels with more renewable alternatives, the person who thought of the concept needs to protect the idea with a patent – and this is where Green IP comes in.

Areas where Green IP is important

There are several areas where Green IP becomes a necessary part of the developmental process: design rights, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

While the rights to a given design have long been a point of contention between creators and the companies who eventually profit from their creations, it isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when protecting intellectual property.

But safeguarding design rights can be seen as a simpler yet more efficient and cost-effective way to protect the general aesthetic of any product that comes into the market. 

Indeed, these are being seen as attractive alternatives by those in design-centric fields like fashion, automotives, aerospace technology, and industrial design for consumer goods. In particular, interested companies are those steering away from traditional manufacturing processes and into more sustainable modes of production such as 3D printing.

The entwined fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning are another core area, especially because AI and the provision of accurate data analytics have become keys to the formulation of far-reaching solutions to the environmental crisis. 

Green IP in this context is expected to safeguard various elements ranging from data input, the software used for data gathering and analysis, proprietary algorithms for ensuring the accuracy of all analytics generated, and any innovative products or work processes developed. In addition, green IP ensures that any AI and ML tools are protected from unwanted – or even illegal – replication by others and avoid any infringement on the intellectual property owned by third-party collaborators.

Rethinking copyrights and trademarks

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of trademark applications for innovative eco-friendly products as well as more sustainable work processes. 

While getting a trademark to protect one’s intellectual property is always recommended, sincerity regarding how eco-friendly the product or process is a new factor to be taken into consideration for both applicants and approving authorities. 

As with advertising related to eco-friendly products, applications for copyright or trademark under Green IP standards will call for great scrutiny on the part of regulators to ensure that the products or processes in question genuinely are sustainable.

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