The LexGaze Weekly - COVER STORY

Expanding IP Beyond Traditonal Senses

Adv. Namrata Pahwa

Sept 21, 2020

Issue 14

“Today’s clean-tech Intellectual Property is tomorrow’s oil.” 

- Andy Hannah, CEO of Plextronics

Any incremental and ground-breaking innovation in terms of products, processes, business models, and utilization systems for sustainable development, is an integral part of the successful transformation towards a green economy.

Green innovation is closely associated with corporate environmental management and eco-target achievement; therefore, green innovation is widely believed to stimulate environmental performance. Not only do green products and process innovation reduce negative environmental impacts, but also increase the economic and social performance of a company through waste and cost reduction. Companies implement Green Process Innovation in their manufacturing processes to shorten production time and reduce costs. Besides, good product innovation improves market positions, affirms brand names, leapfrogs competition, creates breakthroughs and attracts new customers. For example, Tesla Vehicle Charging Systems, Vertical Farming, 3D printing, The Smog Free Project: Jewellery Made From Air Pollution and so many more!

Why is eco-innovation a crucial ingredient for India’s progress?

India has every reason to want to focus on sustainability and energy efficiency. However, the questions arising here are - Why is India lagging so far behind? What do innovation and sustainability domains require despite the enormous potential and its critical need?

High perceived initial costs, outdated accounting methods, and the complexity of construction projects are identified as the main barriers to their implementation. These barriers can be counteracted by:

1) Increased awareness amongst consumers and institutional investors,

2) Collaboration and knowledge transfer between stakeholders, and;

3) A pull-effect of green leaders who communicate the financial and environmental benefits of green projects.

IPC Green Inventory and WIPO Green

The attention towards environmental sustainability represents an essential issue for companies. To integrate the environment into their strategies, they are producing specific innovations that also have positive environmental outcomes. WIPO Green is one such organization that is doing wonders!

The IPC Green Inventory contains approximately 200 topics that are directly relevant to green technology which are further organized into seven major subject areas. In addition to the database, users of WIPO GREEN benefit from a range of additional services such as its free database and case study material illustrating various types of agreements arising from the many different circumstances in which technology transfer occurs, amongst others. Furthermore, WIPO GREEN runs several so-called Acceleration Projects, which focus on particular geographical areas or technological domains. These projects allow providers and seekers to make crucial connections which can further lead to green technology transfer or deployment.

But, can WIPO and the protection of IP rights make a tangible difference in the battle against global climate change? I believe it can and here is why:

Patents play a critical role in encouraging innovation and investment in green technology. For example, collaborations between governments and start-ups could help meet climate challenges while also growing small businesses. Data collected by The University of Cambridge (2019) showed that the patenting activity of new green technology start-up companies in the United States increased by over 73% on average every time there is a collaboration with a government agency. Additionally, trade secrets play a key role in safeguarding channels for know-how exchanges by generating a safe setting for the diffusion of proprietary knowledge.

Patent-protected technologies are already supporting the transition to a green future by, for example:

• Delivering renewable energy resources such as solar power, wind and wave energy;

• Fostering the development of new and improved energy storage options like batteries;

• More energy-efficient lighting sources, for example, LED lighting; and

• Other non-polluting and resource-efficient technologies that enable better waste management, recycling processes, optimal resource use and less environmental harm and;

• Patents help companies secure enormous investments required to realize large-scale green energy projects (like those mentioned above) and to bring their new eco-friendly inventions to the market. Patents also support smaller-scale innovations, much of which seek to benefit resource-poor communities in developing countries.

Sustainable fashion:

In today’s “Fast Fashion” world, Sustainable Fashion is a highly debated and increasingly covered topic in the media and at seminars worldwide. In the Fast Fashion industry, brands like Zara, Forever 21 and H&M have a particularly large carbon footprint, with its reliance on large geographic production and supply chains, often relying on the nature of fashion. This eventually turns itself into a vicious cycle. Such large outputs put a strain upon the environment in varying ways. To make a single T-shirt, for instance, requires 594 gallons of water — as much as one individual would drink in two and a half years. The industry as a whole consumes 1.3 trillion gallons of water per year for fabric dyeing alone, and it is not just using up water; it is also polluting it.

A particular fashion could take mere hours to spread globally, while current methods of IP protection often require time-consuming registrations. This unnecessary chain of events could be avoided if fashion designers were granted more substantial intellectual property rights rather than an overall lack of protection. The law should provide a comprehensive system of protection for rights as well as a means to obtain remedies; yet, the law has consistently fallen short of protection for the most vulnerable in the fashion industry and society. There is an urgent need to reduce this domino effect!


Ms. Namrata Pahwa, an alumni of University of Calcutta went on to pursue her Masters from National University of Singapore. In 7 short years, she has carved a niche for herself in Alternative Dispute Resolutions, Legal Metrology, Information Technology and specialising in Intellectual Property Law.

Ms. Pahwa represents various Corporations, Institutions and Individuals. Her Chamber handles IP Prosecution, litigation and transactional work on a regular basis in various fora, Pan India, having argued many famous cases like India’s first Standard Essential Patent Litigation before the High Court of Delhi.

Ms. Pahwa has recently introduced a new course – Fashion Law, which is extremely upcoming and interesting.

Ms. Pahwa is regularly invited to speak at webinars, forums and conferences in given her vast knowledge on IP and Fashion Law.

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