Tracking the Environmental Impact of IP Protection and its Enforcement

Fabrice Mattei, Climate Change and IP Group Head at Rouse, an IP services business focused on emerging markets, has developed a calculator to track greenhouse gas emissions incurred in protecting and enforcing intellectual property (IP) rights worldwide.

CLIPMATE™ is an invention that relates to methods and systems of calculating, tracking, comparing and offsetting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions incurred in protecting and enforcing IP rights worldwide.

It tracks, collects, compares, offsets GHG emissions incurred in protecting and enforcing industrial property rights, through the selection of specific emission factors and the use of supporting devices.

What problem does it address?

The technology solves several problems. One of them is that it calculates the GHG emissions incurred in protecting and enforcing IP rights anywhere across the world, by comparing different IP strategies on the basis their carbon impact. In this way, it allows applicants or their IP agents to select the most carbon friendly strategy, and offset the emissions to reach “IP carbon neutrality”.

What inspired you to develop CLIPMATE™?

IP activities (e.g. filing trademarks, police raid actions, customs seizure) emit GHG emissions ranging from a dozen of kilograms for a trademark filing in one class in one country to about 2 tons of GHG emissions for a raid action against a factory producing counterfeit shoes. IP owners usually focus on the immediate impact of their IPRs in combating piracy but rarely take into consideration the impacts of their enforcement actions on climate change.  Some corporations conduct up to 2,000 raids a year worldwide which create approximately 4 million of GHG emissions which equal to:

  • the energy consumed by 461,574 homes for one year
  • 450,095,645 gallons of gasoline consumed

Our tool allows companies to include the carbon impact of their IP actions into their IP strategies and to offset associated GHG emissions.

How is the innovation protected?

The innovation is protected under copyright law and an application to patent it is in process.

How does CLIPMATE™ help create a green future?

This innovation enhances awareness among IP right owners and their agents/attorneys of the volume of GHG emissions consumed in implementing their IP strategies and allows them to offset those emissions to reach IP carbon neutrality. It also allows them to compare IP strategies based on their overall efficiency and GHG emissions impact and to select the strategy with the lowest carbon impact. The offsetting supports the Technology Mechanism and Financial Mechanism under the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Why it is important for inventors to protect their work with IP rights?

Intellectual property rights acknowledge and recognize the contributions of our tool to climate change and protect our innovation by allowing us to license it while retaining full ownership of it.

What was the greatest challenge in developing CLIPMATE™?

Emissions tracking and offsetting of IP rights is arduous due to the number of intermediaries involved in registering and enforcing those rights, across a wide geography. That’s why my greatest challenge was to develop emission factors to capture all sources of emissions, which occur at every step of the IP rights life cycle, worldwide. The system I developed allows users to do it accurately, effortlessly and in real time.

How can policymakers support innovation for a green future?

The UNFCCC, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreement on Climate Change have created and enhanced the role of the Technology Mechanism and Finance Mechanism to support access to green technologies. It is critical to translate these two mechanisms in concrete measures and at a local level by enhancing the matching of green technologies with countries and population needs. Unfortunately, the number of transfers or licensing of climate change technologies are relatively low, so far. Furthermore, the solution under the Paris Agreement, which relies on technology transfers to respond to climate change depends, in my view, too much on the private sector, as the holder of most green technologies, which makes the licensing of green tech non-scalable.

A blockchain-based technology approach may be the solution. It would increase the active participation of country parties and enhance public and private sector participation and ambition across the major pillars of the Paris Agreement. The unique identification and tracking properties of such an approach could ensure a high level of transparency within the network as well as a high-level of trust for the stored data (less risk of infringement/copying). Moreover, combining mechanisms of the Paris Agreement with blockchain technology could open the door to many new and innovative approaches offering lower transaction costs and increased transparency.

What is your call to action on World IP Day 2020?

We have a concrete call to make. Carbon offset schemes or programs allow individuals and companies to invest in environmental projects around the world in order to balance out or offset their own carbon footprints.

Our call is for setting up voluntary and dedicated IP carbon offset schemes that will allow applicants of IPRs, their IP agents and any other intermediaries in the IP sector, to offset the carbon emissions incurred in protecting and enforcing IPRs. Investing in such IP carbon offset schemes will support better access to and rolling out of clean energy technologies, green finance, and will enhance local communities’ indigenous solutions to adapt to climate change, etc. This new offset scheme should focus on mitigation and adaption solutions to climate change, so that all types of IPRs could play a part (e.g. patents for mitigation, geographical indications for adaptation). The voluntary offset scheme could evolve over time as an industry standard for the IP, like a certification.

We will offer free license to all users of CLIPMATE™ who will offset their emissions via this new IP carbon offset scheme.

Flowchart showing how the new offset scheme would work

How is CLIPMATE™ being used and what is its potential impact?

Users can access CLIPMATE™ by logging on to and by selecting the IP solutions with the lowest carbon emissions and implementing their IP strategies in full awareness of their environmental impact.

The example below shows a comparison between a police raid action and a warning letter in terms of carbon impact and overall efficiency, using our innovation.

(Copyright: Fabrice Mattei)

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