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Intellectual property and sustainable growth

This year marks the 30th anniversary since the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, or the ‘Earth Summit’) took place in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro. This landmark event brought together heads of state and civil society stakeholders to address urgent problems of environmental protection and socio-economic development, and marked the beginning of drafting important agreements such as the one addressing climate change. Fortuitously, this year also marks the 30th anniversary of the EU ecolabel, a logo that has become indispensable in supermarkets throughout the European Union in representing the environmental excellence of certified products. EU eco and organic labels can offer a valuable contribution to entities’ intangible asset portfolios.

Sustainability is taken very seriously by the EUIPO, not only by offsetting the carbon footprint of their premises, but also in core-business and in relation with its stakeholders and users of the IP system. To understand new trends in customer behaviour, the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights published a report on Green trade marks in 2021 analysing the Goods & Services descriptions of 2 million EUTM applications filed since operations began in 1996. The study analysed the presence of terms that can be interpreted as related to the protection of the environment and sustainability, such as ‘photovoltaic’, ‘solar heating’, ‘wind energy’ or ‘recycling’. The study found that growing interest in sustainability has manifested itself through an increased absolute number of green EUTMs filed for, more filings for green EUTMs from outside the EU and that SMEs are especially active ‘green’ filers.

Extending EUIPO’s commitment to sustainability beyond the EU, the EU-funded Action ‘Latin America Alliance for Sustainable Growth and Jobs’ in relation to intellectual property rights, AL-INVEST Verde IPR, was launched this summer. The motto of the Action is that IP is an essential incentive for creativity and innovation (including green innovation), making it indispensable to support the transition towards a low-carbon, resource-efficient and more circular economy, and to promote sustainable food policy, protect biodiversity and fight pollution. Therefore, in many ways, IP can play a critical role in promoting the objectives of the European Green Deal as well as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

AL-INVEST Verde IPR’s first action took place during the 10th edition of the Green Rio conference, whose first edition was organised as a side-event of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or ‘Rio+20’) in 2012, which was in turn a follow-up event of the legendary Earth Summit of 1992. Green Rio established itself as one of Brazil’s most important platforms for international multi-stakeholder exchanges in the field of bioeconomy. While the city of Rio de Janeiro has evolved into a leader in urban climate policies, with one-third of its territory under environmental protection. All these factors combined, Green Rio 2022 proved to be the pre-eminent occasion to discuss how intellectual property can be part of the solution for environmental protection and to continue the important debates that began 30 years ago.

For more information about AL-INVEST Verde IPR’s participation in Green Rio 2022, see this article.


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