The 26th of April is World IP Day and the theme for 2024 is IP and the Sustainable Development Goals ("SDGs") as sustainability becomes ever more important to individuals and businesses. The World Intellectual Property Office ("WIPO") is aiming to highlight the importance of innovation, creativity and IP to help achieve the SDGs. This short blog provides an overview of the World IP Day theme and IP's impact on achieving the SDGs.

SDGs and IP

The SDGs are seventeen goals which are at the centre of the United Nation's 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development covering all aspects of social, economic and environmental sustainability. The goals include taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts, ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns and ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

IP drives innovation and creativity which can help achieve the SDGs. IP protection is vital in the development of new technologies, like new green technologies. Adequate systems of protection create an environment which allows for innovators to have confidence in the system and continue to innovate and create.

As WIPO highlights in its discussion of this year's theme, most IP rights are for a limited time and are only granted under certain conditions. Such limitations allow for a balance between the interests of creators and the interests of the public to be able to benefit from the IP. This is particularly important in the context of achieving the SDGs.

There are a variety of different types of IP available to creators and inventors to protect their creations. You can learn more about particular types of IP, such as trade marks and copyright, in our previous blogs, including this blog.

Patents and Innovation

WIPO's patent analytics report (the "WIPO Report") published this year analyses patents in relation to the SDGs. The WIPO Report found that almost one in three active patent families worldwide are related to the SDGs with some of the SDGs, like the Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure SDG and the Climate Action SDG, showing significant patent activity.

The Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure SDG has the highest number of patents. The SDGs more aligned to socioeconomic goals, however, do not have much related patent data which is to be expected given their nature.

The WIPO Report also focuses on the number of patents and the growth rates from different world regions and countries like Europe, the United States of America, and South Korea. China has seen exponential growth in the number of SDG-related patents. As mentioned in our previous blog regarding the WIPO Green Technology Book, China has a significant number of patents, and often has seen the largest number of patents which are related to green technology.

The WIPO Report emphasizes that the development of technology and the protection of the IP in such technology are vital aspects in patent-led innovation. The WIPO Report and the extensive filing for patent protection of technologies related to the SDGs highlights the critical role of IP in the pursuit of the SDGs and further sustainability goals.


The UK Intellectual Property Office ("IPO") has a 'Green Channel' for patent applications. The Green Channel was introduced in 2009 and it allows applicants to request faster processing of their patent application if the invention has an environmental benefit. The IPO keeps a register of all published Green Channel patent applications on its website.

The IPO also published its report 'The race to net zero: Tracking the green industrial revolution through IP' ("Green Technology Report") on 26 February 2024 which has tracked trends in IP data from 2002 to 2020 covering both patents and trade marks. The Green Technology Report shows that green technology has seen nearly 400% growth in 2020 compared to 2000. Around 6% of trade mark applications were identified as green and 5.1% of patents relate to climate action.

Brodies' commercial team is experienced in assisting clients with research and development projects, advising green technology organisations in relation to their commercial agreements and the protection of intellectual property. If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this blog in more detail, please get in touch with a member of the commercial team or your usual Brodies contact.


Alison Bryce


Clare O'Toole