World IP Day: the role of intellectual property in green innovation

In recognition of this year’s theme for World IP Day, “Innovate for a Green Future”, Serjeants’ expert team of patent and trade mark attorneys takes a look at two examples of where IP is being used to encourage a more eco-friendly future.

World IP DayResponsible clothing

With businesses under an increased amount of pressure to be environmentally responsible, more and more fashion labels are developing eco-friendly sub-brands that appeal to the conscientious consumer.

H&M, Zara and Net-a-porter are all examples of businesses that have specific eco ranges within their larger brands. Each of these has registered trade marks for their sub-brands; H&M has a registration for “Conscious”, Zara has “Join Life” and Net-a-porter has “Net Sustain”.

Trade marks in eco fashion

As well as providing clarity over which products within their brand are from the more environmentally conscious range, having a registered trade mark also demonstrates that these companies understand and are reacting to the ongoing shift in buying priorities.

Although they are not the main brands within a company, sub-brands still require registration as trade marks in order to be legally protected from infringers. Trade marks can help to safeguard both a brand and its consumers from unauthorised parties trying to sell copycat products. This is particularly significant for eco-conscious ranges, where trade marks serve to protect consumers from unknowingly buying a counterfeit product that may not come from an environmentally friendly source.

Sustainable transport

Another example of where IP is being used to support a more eco-friendly future is Tesla, which has utilised patents in an unusual way to encourage green innovation. Tesla has a large portfolio of patents relating to electric cars, including patents for its batteries and charging technology.

Initially, this allowed it to prevent third parties from using the same technology. However, in 2014, Tesla took the very unusual step of allowing anybody to use its patented technology. The company explained in a statement that this was done “in the spirit of the open-source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology”.

Patent strategy

While this strategy will certainly have accelerated the advancement of sustainable transport, Tesla’s motivation may not have been entirely altruistic. By allowing third parties to use its technology, Tesla removed an incentive for such parties to develop their own competing technologies. Instead, the most cost-effective route for competitors was simply to adopt Tesla’s existing material. This could help ensure that Tesla charging technology and batteries become the standard, encouraging wider adoption of electric cars and good provision of Tesla compatible charging stations.

Whatever the reasoning though, by making its patents available to all, Tesla will help small and large scale companies to manufacture electric vehicles more easily.

World IP Day: a greener future

IP rights serve to encourage more innovation and creativity by making sure inventors and creators get a fair reward for their work. The above examples are just a couple of ways in which Intellectual Property is being used as a valuable tool for the development of a green future.

Contact Serjeants

At Serjeants, we handle all aspects of intellectual property for our clients. Whether it’s preparing and filing patent, trade mark and design applications, or helping our clients to enforce their valuable IP rights.

If you have any queries regarding any intellectual property matter, please call 0116 233 2626 or send an enquiry here.