Close this search box.

Championing Creativity: World IP Day

In 2000, the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) officially established the 26th of April as World Intellectual Property Day. This date holds particular importance for WIPO, marking the entry into force of the WIPO Convention in 1970. From its inception, World IP Day has provided an annual occasion to reflect on the role of intellectual property in our life.

This year’s theme is the role of intellectual property (IP) in advancing sustainable development goals (SDGs). The connection between these may not be obvious. However, to achieve the SDGs, we need to re-think how we live, work and play & IP is the right tool to stimulate and reward innovation as it provides the means how businesses can protect and exploit their ideas needed to build a better future for everyone and overcome the challenges we face.

IP serves primarily as a catalyst for attaining SDG 9 and is necessary to prompt novel technological responses to significant sustainability issues, encompassing but not restricted to climate change and advancements in quality of life. Unlike tangible assets, IP possesses intangible characteristics, rendering it highly scalable and sustainable. This makes it an ideal cornerstone for implementing low-carbon business strategies and expanding exports, given the correlation between rising global incomes and IP licensing. By affording businesses a legally enforceable framework, IP empowers them to realize returns on their investments, thus incentivizing continued innovation essential for advancing a wide spectrum of SDGs. Given the global nature of sustainability challenges, the existing regulatory framework and international agreements overseen by WIPO harmonize rights protection and provide effective mechanisms for extending and enforcing IP rights.

Nowadays, businesses are progressively emphasizing the environmental aspects of their products and services in their marketing efforts because customers are making purchasing decisions based on sustainability considerations. In fact, a recent EUIPO study on trademark filings published in February 2023 showed a significant increase in the filing of ‘green’ EU trademarks which assist businesses to highlight their green credentials which subsequently contribute to increased goodwill in their products and services. Whilst patents are critical to sustainable innovation by representing the first step in building a successful business and opening doors to further opportunities.

Therefore, on World IP Day 2024, we celebrate some of the inventors who are shaping our common future.

The Hydro-Pneumatic Energy Storage (HPES) technology was developed by a team of academics at the University of Malta (UM) led by Prof Tonio Sant, with the financial assistance of MCST and the European Commission. After successful proof-of-concept testing, they established FLASC B.V. as a spin-off to commercialize the technology. This technology addresses the problem of having a mismatch between renewable energy supply from offshore renewables and daily consumer demand. FLASC HPES stores energy using pressurized seawater and compressed air. During the storage process electricity drives a hydraulic pump pushing liquid inside a closed chamber, and as the liquid is incompressible, it compresses the gas within the chamber.  Then during the discharge process, the gas is allowed to expand, pushing the incompressible liquid out through a hydraulic turbine or motor to produce electricity. This is a sustainable alternative to Li-ion battery farms due to its long system lifetime, high recyclability and no reliance on exotic materials. This technology has been patented in various jurisdictions with the assistance of the UM Knowledge Transfer Office.

Aurelius Environmental invented the FenixPb process which can recover the active material in batteries (the “leady oxide”) while reducing the carbon footprint by more than 85%. It is a zero-waste process, and substantially reduces the energy used because the process takes place in cold water instead of in a furnace. IP has been fundamental to Aurelius’ success so far, with the underlying IP giving the founders confidence to further build their business and has enabled them to engage with investors and licensees all over the world.

Since humanity faces the problem of running out of food, the founders of Sibö B.V. came up with an alternative source of food: insects.  It is patenting its water-soluble protein extract as well as the proprietary technology that allows the extraction of insect nutrients. The breakthrough processes for extracting protein and fats are trade secrets. The company’s insect-based ingredients are protected by a trademark, Entowise. Its subcompany, the Costa Rica Insect Company, is also trademarked. Meanwhile, its sustainable method of growing insects is copyrighted in Costa Rica, where it forms the basis of the country’s first national insect farming program.

CloudFisher® was created after the industrial designer Peter Trautwein realized that fog could be the solution to the region (Mount Boutmezguida)’s growing water scarcity. This invention turns fog into drinking water. Consisting of a large mesh net suspended in an upright steel frame, it causes fog to condense in the mesh and collect at the structure’s base, from where it is piped directly into nearby homes. The new, clean and affordable water supply has made it easier for people to grow crops, rear livestock and earn a living from the land. The technology underpinning CloudFisher® is supported by patents and utility models and is now being introduced to other regions.

Lastly, in WIPO’s words, the SDGs are a blueprint for action. With innovation, creativity, and IP we can turn that blueprint into reality. Together, we can create a shared future where both humanity and our planet flourish.