The theme for this year’s World IP Day is “To build our common future and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we need to re-think how we live, work and play”.

The SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The 17 SDGs are integrated—they recognise that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability. 

IP can play its part to help address these challenges to incentivise innovation and creativity, which in turn are key to the success of the SDGs, as well as to help deliver net zero commitments.   

The Intellectual Property Office UK (IPO UK) wants to create the right environment to give entrepreneurs, innovators, and businesses the confidence to create and invest in greener technologies.    

So, what support and activities does the IPO UK offer to support SDGs?

Green Channel  

Since 2009, we have operated the “Green Channel”, allowing the acceleration of patent applications with an environmental benefit in as little as nine months from the application filing date. Over 4,000 patent applications have been processed through it, with applications increasing year-on-year. Electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and chemistry are the most popular sectors based around energy, pumps/turbines, transport, and environmental technology.

How does the Green Channel work?

Patent applicants need to make an application in writing, setting out a reasonable assertion that the invention has some environmental benefit and which specific steps of the granting process they wish to accelerate (search, examination, etc.). If, for example, the invention is a solar panel or a wind turbine then a simple statement is likely to be enough. However, applications that are clearly unfounded will be refused.

We publish a searchable database of published and granted Green Channel patent applications.

Case Studies

IE-SOARIntelligent Energy is a UK-based, world-leading fuel cell engineering business, focused on the development of lightweight, high-efficiency fuel cell technologies.

Head of IP, Dan Ninan, told us: “The accelerated examination means that we are often able have our patent granted in the UK within the priority year. So, we can then apply to other jurisdictions with a GB grant which can be used as the basis of a Patent Prosecution Highway request.” Read more about Intelligent Energy’s story on the IPO blog.

Image: IE-SOAR 2.4kW fuel cell module powering a Gryphon drone. (Copyright Intelligent Energy). 

OxaOxford-based company Oxa creates software for autonomous vehicles. Head of Licensing and IP Management, Alex Tame, told us: “We chose the Green Channel to get our portfolio started efficiently, as patents can be granted faster than via the more traditional route.” 

You can read more about Oxa’s autonomous vehicle journey on the IPO blog.  

Image: Europe’s-first zero-occupancy autonomous vehicle journey on-road completed by Oxa in May 2022. (Copyright: Oxa) 


IP data  

IP data can assist innovation and identify trends. The UK Government created a Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution to support green jobs, and accelerate our path to meeting net zero. 

The IPO UK supported this work in publishing a series of short reports on worldwide patenting of green technologies.   

We published a further report comparing trends relating to green technology as a whole, globally and in the UK, the use of our Green Channel and analysed green trade mark trends. 

This information provides a snapshot of the IP situation in specific technologies and help inform policy, innovation plans and support R&D.  

Global approach 

Engagement with international partners is vital in supporting the SDGs as this is a shared goal. Some of the IPO UK’s activity includes: 

  • Working with WIPO to share best practice and understand initiatives that other offices have enacted to assist IP in green technologies. 
  • Working with the EPO Observatory on Patents and Technology on work related to supporting green technologies. They have chosen World IP Day to publish a report about the commercialisation of green technologies, jointly with the European Investment Bank. 
  • Offering technical assistance through training examiners, resource and capacity building, best practice exchanges, bilateral co-operation, supporting WIPO treaties and global IP systems aiming to promote economic growth, gender equality and innovation.  

UK IPO operations  

We are looking at our own operations and how we as an organisation can be more sustainable. We are transforming our IP services, processes and systems to make the most of digital technology.  

We expect our carbon footprint to reduce significantly through not printing, posting and receiving as many paper forms, retiring on-site servers and moving to cloud servers, which will use newer, more efficient hardware.  


IP activity in green sectors is increasing as businesses continue to innovate and initiatives like our Green Channel support this innovation. 

From an IPO UK perspective, successfully supporting the delivery of SDGs relies on a balanced and effective IP system that encourages innovation and creativity and facilitates the flow of knowledge and technical expertise with international partners. 

A great example of collaboration is WIPO GREEN, a platform for technology exchange that connects providers and seekers of environmentally friendly technologies together. It assembles in one place green technologies and encourages the innovation and diffusion of green technologies to help us “re-think how we live, work and play” and support the delivery of SDGs. 

This article is part of FICPI's collection of content for World IP Day 2024 
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