Minister Solloway says IP ‘key’ to tackling climate change

UK IPO received ‘record’ 402 applications through its green channel in 2020 – an increase of over 40% compared to 2019. Catherine White of Intellectual Property Magazine, reports from CIPA Congress 2021.

Climate change is a “huge challenge facing all of us that we just cannot afford to ignore”, so said Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation Amanda Solloway, adding that “IP is key” to unlocking opportunities surrounding green innovations.

Solloway was speaking on the second day of the Charted Institute of Patent Attorneys virtual congress 2021 and stated that the UK government’s strategy to tackle climate issues through green technologies has been set out in its Green Industrial Revolution plan, which was released in November 2020.

The MP’s keynote speech explained that the government’s target to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 will be “hard to meet” without such innovation and technologies and that “IP is a vital tool to ensure that we can apply smart innovation to finding solutions” to the climate challenge.

She said, “We all know that green technology innovation is pivotal to our time and IP rights play a significant role in underpinning new technology.”

Discussing patent applications seeking protection for environmentally beneficial inventions, Solloway explained that patentees can choose to take advantage of the UK Intellectual Property Office’s (UK IPO) ‘Green Channel’ acceleration scheme that was introduced in May 2009.

She highlighted that this scheme provides accelerated patents which “can be granted in as little as nine months rather than the typical three to five years to grant”.

She added, “The UK IPO received a record 402 applications through the green channel in 2020, which is an increase of over 40% compared to 2019.”

The MP concluded, “As a government we recognise there are vast challenges and opportunities ahead and IP is key to unlocking so many of these.”

Turning to the UK IPO’s Access Funds programme, Solloway explained that the scheme will “help to stimulate recovering and growing SMEs and support them to really fully reap the value within their IP assets and help unlock their rich potential.”

She added that an expanded education programme led by the UK IPO will help to deliver more training to universities in the research sector “than ever before”, where so far 2,200 PHD students have received IP training.

Solloway concluded, “A lack of IP knowledge should never be a barrier to international trade and innovation… leaving the EU means that we now have the flexibility to make changes to the IP framework and where this makes the system more effective.

“We want to make sure that the IP framework remains fit for the future among the coming global challenges.”

Date published: 15 September 2021

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