Working globally to address climate change through sustainable innovation

Blog by Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO

The USPTO hosted the leaders of the five largest intellectual property offices of the world, as well as the World Intellectual Property Organization, at their annual meeting, this year focused on sustainability. (Photo by Michael Cleveland/USPTO)

Recently, I had the privilege of hosting the leaders of the largest intellectual property (IP) offices in the world – the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), along with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), for the annual meeting of the IP5, which took place in Hawai’i. I then led the USPTO delegation to the 64th Assemblies of the Member States of WIPO, an annual meeting with over 190 international IP offices from around the world in Geneva, Switzerland. 
One topic of international concern to us all was how to work together to support sustainable innovation and as we look to solve global climate change. There is a pressing need for more innovation in the green tech space, and we need new technologies to mitigate the effects climate change. This is an international issue that affects all of us, and we discussed how we can work together to bring sustainable innovations to global impact.
The sustainability innovation dialogue during IP5 focused on connecting with others across the globe, sharing information on fostering climate-friendly innovations, and working together to scale these efforts (Photo by Michael Cleveland/USPTO)

During our sustainable innovation dialogue at IP5, we discussed how we can work together towards a goal of net-zero carbon emissions to help mitigate climate change and preserve our environment. The IP5 leaders shared information on initiatives that encourage patent filings in climate technologies in their countries, streamline examination, and encourage eco-friendly efforts, such as paperless filing and energy efficiency. We brought together innovators, accelerators, and funders, as well as our sister agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to determine how we can be a catalyst to bring climate change technologies from research to the marketplace. Read more about the joint commitment to this important issue, and learn about current trends and programs across the IP5 countries in the Climate Initiatives Booklet.
The USPTO delegation met with a number of IP offices at the General Assemblies, including the delegation from the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, pictured here.
In my remarks at the General Assemblies, I also underscored the need for greater international collaboration to advance green technology. The USPTO delegation and I participated in a number of valuable bilateral meetings, including with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, the United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office, the German Patent and Trade Mark Office, and Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Intellectual Property India, the Turkish Patent Office, and more. We committed to additional conversations with Canada, India, the UK, and WIPO on how we can work together to incentivize and commercialize green innovation.
Director Vidal and Konstantinos Georgaras, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian IP Office
Our work ties directly into the administration’s priority to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. For example, we are expanding and deepening our work with Canada to benefit all U.S. and Canadian citizens and businesses. Following on the heels of the North America Leader’s Summit between President Biden, Prime Minister Trudeau, and President Lopez Obrador, we are working on initiatives to leverage IP to drive North America’s economic competitiveness, promote inclusive growth and prosperity, and respond to the global climate crisis.
During the IP5 leaders’ visit to NOAA’s Inouye Regional Center, they saw a system at work detecting an earthquake developing near the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico (Photo by Michael Cleveland/USPTO)
At the USPTO, in the last year alone, we have established new programs to address climate change. We announced a new Trademarks for Humanity Awards Program, Patents for Humanity Green Energy category, and partnership with the World Intellectual Property Organization’s WIPO GREEN Program. And we recently announced the extension and expansion of our Climate Change Mitigation Pilot Program, which accelerates the examination of patent applications for innovations that mitigate climate change. We have now expanded the eligibility requirements to encompass a more robust group of innovations in any economic sector that advance progress toward achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
We also have a work-sharing program with NOAA that focuses on the intersection of IP and climate and environmental technologies. USPTO expertise helps NOAA provide intellectual property training for its scientific workforce. In return, NOAA provides climate science training to USPTO patent examiners and advises the USPTO on future green initiatives. We are already seeing the benefits of this collaboration, and I cannot wait to see where it leads in the future.
We recognize the importance of connecting with industry to encourage partnership opportunities that advance technologies that fight climate change. That is why we recently held a Green Energy Innovation Expo in Alexandria, Virginia, in collaboration with the Federal Laboratory Consortium and AUTM. The event brought together businesses, universities, and startups—offering a wide range of green energy technologies for licensing, including green hydrogen, energy storage, and wind energy. Attendees participated in matchmaking sessions to consider potential partnership opportunities. Stay tuned for more events focused on sustainable innovation!
This year’s IP5 meeting and General Assemblies advanced our efforts to work across borders to effectively address world problems such as climate change. Together, we can incentivize and widen access to the intellectual property system for innovators in all communities who are on the cutting edge of technologies that will help build a sustainable future.