India: Climate Change And Intellectual Property

India: Climate Change And Intellectual Property

Modernization is all-encompassing in its sweep. From an individual to a society and a country, at large, it has become an inherent phenomenon that we all experience in all walks of life, every day. The rising needs of humans lead to tremendous pressure on earth. Humankind is engulfed in consumerism as if there is another planet to move on. This has led to a negative and irreversible impact on nature. To address the challenges of climate change, green technologies have emerged and everyone has to adopt sustainable practices to conserve the planet.

Green technology applications are important and they can create a positive impact only if they can scale and made accessible to the people at large. The WIPO and IP Laws play a key role in globalizing technology by designing the right policies. IP laws also ensure that such valuable applications get duly recognized and authenticity is established.

Some of the brilliant green and sustainable innovations are shared below –

  1. Biodegradable Bags for Food Packaging – The biodegradable bags are created by avoiding the use of petroleum products made of biodegradable polymer layers, heat-sealed to resist oxygen and vapor and are readily degraded by 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 indicate tags made of a soluble substrate and are made 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 are meant to reduce the production and utilization 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 – This invention relates to a process of centralized treatment of starch from household garbage. This process helps prepare a substitute for plastic to address the garbage disposal issues surrounding most of the communities. This patent is registered with 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 and lets the clean air back into the surroundings by an exhaust. This patent is registered with Henan Network Tech Co. Ltd. under publication number CN109821331A.
  6. Natural gas boilers – These boilers utilize natural gas or propane to heat water and have an outlet for smoke. This outlet contains a smoke purifying device which purifies the Oxynitride in the smoke. This patent is registered with Beijing Hengzhi Hongye Energy Science and Tech Co. Ltd. under the patent publication number CN203572011U.
  7. Smartflower – It is a solar power generation device that consists of a sunlight tracking device and a solar power generation mechanism. Smartflower is equipped to face harsh weather conditions with a mechanism to contract, thereby prolonging its service life. It is registered with Zhengzhou Network Tech Co. Ltd. under the 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. This patent is registered under publication number FR2988144B1.
  9. Flood Monitoring and Management System – This is a patented system under One Concern Inc. (US) bearing publication number WO2019204254A1. This system combines technology and weather forecasts to predict and provide an estimated recovery formulation based on a hydraulic model. The system provides a safeguard to the surrounding regions from unmonitored flood-like situations.

As you must have noticed, the above examples are actively deployed for sustainable modern living and at the same time are environment friendly. It can be observed that they can be deployed across the globe and all of this is possible, only because they are patented. IP Laws ensure that while these applications are being shared across the globe for the greater good, they are protected from theft, duplication, and sub-standardization. IP Laws also ensure that the beneficiaries get the right product at the right time and facilitate the efforts towards mitigating climate change. Despite the visible benefits of green technology, the number of patents filed is very less and that is why many innovations happening around us go unnoticed.

Low numbers in filing patents are mainly due to lack of awareness, lack of access to the right information about IP rights and theft. It is very disheartening to see one's life's work failing to get due credit and recognition. While individuals and countries at large are focusing on adopting sustainability in day to day practices, there should be a collective effort to help researchers and innovators file a patent and accelerate the rate of development and progress towards conserving the environment.

There have been cases where inventions and patent claims have fallen prey to monopoly and misinformation. It must be noted that the Indian Patent Office (IPO) has amended the patent rules and now one can get a grant in just one year. IPO is the fastest patent office in the world. Provisions for e-filing and e-certificates are made available to the public and this is a giant step in spreading awareness amongst the innovators. As awareness increases, people will be motivated to take the extra effort to implement their original ideas and also protect them from idea scavengers. Sometimes, there are discussions around keeping ideas on public goods out of the scope of patents, but one must understand that once the idea is patented, then the design or process can always be made available in open source based on the discretion of the inventor and this approach will ensure that the invention is genuinely applied for the greater good.

Protection and deployment of ideas is not just an individual's responsibility but it needs to be part of the larger culture in the society so that the collective causes of environmental protection, UN sustainable development goals and balancing the climate change are served in the interest of humanity.

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