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IPR IS A POTENTIAL TOOL FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ON THE TOUCHSTONE OF GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS AND TRADEMARK

INTRODUCTION

Property is known to be “Everything which is the subject of ownership, corporeal or incorporeal, tangible or intangible, visible or invisible, real or personal, everything that has an exchangeable value or which goes to make up wealth or estate”[1]. Today the meaning of property had taken different dimensions where intellect is also considered as property. Property and knowledge seem to be inseparable now where it’s not similar before. The actuality made people realise the need for intellectual property rights. The rapid growth of IPR is believed due to an intense spread of global communication and technologies. Technological developments lay the seed for a surge in potent intellectual property protection. Noteworthy IP rights are absolute for the economic development of a country. Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) international agreement on intellectual property made a climacteric event in the chronology of IPR and international law. TRIPS made necessary changes in diplomatic sectors such as agriculture, education and health without exception.

Sustainable development goals 2015 had been adopted by UN Assembly which highlights the connection between IP and sustainable development. Sustainable development is highly impacted by intellectual property. SDGs represent a target to boost sustainable industrialisation with a robust infrastructure. Even though IPR promotes industrialisation it still limits the free flow of technology which hinders sustainable development.

WIPO TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The law protects the intellectual rights of inventors through trademarks, copyrights, and patents. The effective part of IP strategy should be sustainability. Intellectual Property connects with a nation’s social development as well as economic development. United Nations 2030 Agenda of sustainable development with 17 Sustainable development goals aims to aspire- to abolish poverty, protect the environment, and guarantee to provide peace. As a specialised agency of the United Nations, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) contributes to the SDGs by providing concrete services to its member states, enabling them to use the intellectual property (IP) system to drive innovation, competitiveness and creativity needed to achieve these goals[2]. Agenda 2030 can be accomplished by the Development Goals of WIPO. The main objective of the WIPO Development Agenda is to improve the country’s capacity to protect inventions, innovations and domestic inventions which helps to achieve SDGs.

SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH TRIPS AGREEMENT

TRIPS Agreement is the IP treaty that is a crucial role for all World Trade Organisation member countries. It introduces minimum norms for the protection that all countries should oblige in patents, trademarks, geographical indications, industrial designs and undisclosed information[3]. Two cases were discussed in TRIPS firstly in developed countries and secondly in the case of developing countries. Developed countries had a plan of protection which was needed by the TRIPS Agreement, where little effort was needed to have complete adherence. Complete situation change existed in the case of developing countries where protection was absent in certain areas. In the case of India which had specific patenting rules which were in need to be changed for adherence to TRIPS. Major adjustments had been required for developing countries to adhere to TRIPS. Some parts of the agreement promote sustainability through IP. For example, under this agreement, any invention that aims to protect life and health or the environment may not enjoy patent protection. One can interpret this to mean inventions that promote sustainable development will not have exclusive ownership rights[4].

A WAY TO SUPPORT SUSTAINABILITY: GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS

Geographical indications play a vital role in the IP protection system. Article 22.1 of the TRIPS Agreement defines geographical indications as “….indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a Member [of the World Trade Organization], or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin…”[5]. Geographical indication gained importance in recent years due to TRIPS Agreement where WTO countries were put under an obligation to protect them. Marketing strategies are the main reason for the increase in usage of GIs. Geographical-origin products have unique characteristics which are desired by consumers. Rural development can be increased by GI products, as they add value to the products of the place of origin. They help to create local employment, to receive brand prices for GI products. A regional brand is created by Geographical indication which not only provides jobs to rural communities but also uplifts the whole region.

Subject matter linked with traditional knowledge is not protected by Geographical indications. It is kept in the public domain by IP conventional systems. Value-added schemes of GI products cause producers to minimise captivation to substitute traditional processes with low-cost processes. Geographical indications give protection against evasive and deceptive trade practices. Traditional cultural expressions and knowledge of indigenous communities can be protected from commercial exploitation by Geographical indication. Encouragement of traditional knowledge-based economic development is the major achievement of GI. Geographical indications provide indigenous communities with a means to differentiate their products and benefit from their commercialisation, thereby improving their economic position[6]. Intellectual Property helps to achieve social, environmental and economic sustainability.

TRADEMARKS TOUCHING ON SUSTAINABILITY

Trademarks are worldwide used certification mechanisms. Environment-conscious thoughts of consumers around the world are building up, making them consume environment-friendly products. Trademarks make sure to the standard of the products. Specific types of certification marks are provided around the world for compliance with certain standards. Trademarks have a pertinent role in the concern for products with green sign brands, with the adoption of sustainability. Governments are moving towards the utilisation of green-based technologies to decrease levels of carbon footprint and fast forward towards sustainable development. STIP 2020 has a view of intellectual property to compete with climate change[7]. Products that impact less on the ecosystem are verified with ECOMARK given by the Bureau of Indian Standards including, cosmetics, textiles, and food items. Confederation of Indian issues another certification mark called GreenPro which guarantees that the product with this mark is environment friendly and accredits sustainability.

CONCLUSION

As mentioned above, Intellectual property rights play a crucial role in the Sustainable development goals connected with economic development, health etc. The sustainability goals of the sustainable development agenda of the World Intellectual Property Organisation authenticate and spread contemporary activities are similar to the WIPO Development Agenda. But the Sustainable Development Agenda of WIPO is way poorer than the WIPO Development Agenda, as the latter has the outcome of embodying the views of developing representatives of WIPO. Contemporary IP laws divert from SDGs. As a result, WIPO has a paramount role to scrutinize IPs to which the sustainability goals are bound and to identify the position, capable of assistance and condemnation with sustainability. Each country is not aided by IP systems analogously towards their development. Different countries need different IP policies according to the need of the country, especially in developing countries. Social entrepreneurs and innovative corporations which counter stringent notions of IPR are likely to formulate visionary strategies and futuristic endeavours in Intellectual Property and sustainable development.

Author(s) Name: K. Boomithayashini (School Of Excellence in Law, Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University, Chennai)

Reference(s):

[1]   Black’s Law Dictionary (5th edn,1979), para 1095

[2] ‘The Impact of Innovation WIPO and the Sustainable Development Goals’ (World Intellectual Property Organisation)<www.wipo.int/sdgs/en/story.html> accessed 4 July 2023

[3] TRIPS Agreement 1995, art 1

[4] ‘The Nexus Between Intellectual Property& Sustainability’ (IamIP, 18 January 2023) <www.iamip.com/the-nexus-between-intellectual-property-and-sustainability> accessed 04 July 2023

[5] TRIPS Agreement 1995, art 22

[6] ‘Geographical Indications: An Introduction’(World Intellectual Property Organisation, 2021) <www.wipo.int/publications/en/details.jsp?id=4562 > accessed 06 July 2023

[7] ‘Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020’ (Science Policy Forum) <www.thesciencepolicyforum.org/initiatives/science-technology-and-innovation-policy-stip-2020> accessed 07 July 2023