Exeter Law School
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World Intellectual Property Day

Posted by The Law School

26 April 2024

For World Intellectual Property Day (26 April 2024), Exeter academics and students have contributed to the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) Guide to the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). 

The University of Exeter Law School is a corporate member of IPAN, and the Law School’s Dr Louise Loder, a member of IPAN’s Secretariat, led on the research and outreach for this initiative, which explores how IP might be used to empower and not hinder progress on the 17 Global Goals. 

The Guide is an exploration of the 17 Global Goals through an IP lens featuring the expert perspectives and recommendations of IPAN’s partners, members, practitioners and policymakers, addressing the following question: ‘How does IP intersect with each of the Global Goals, and how might IP be used to advance innovation and creativity towards realising the Goals?’ It has forewords from John P Ogier, Chair of IPAN; Adam Williams, Chief Executive and Comptroller-General of UK Intellectual Property Office; and Neil Lampert, Deputy Chief Executive, The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.

In March and April 2024, the IPAN Board and Secretariat asked members, partners and IPAN allies to submit their contributions for a specific Goal, and IPAN received over 30 contributions from practitioners, academics, entrepreneurs and students, including from the University of Exeter – Dr Louise Loder, Lecturer in Law & Director of Skills in the Law School; Dr Pratheeba Vimalnath, Lecturer in Innovation, Intellectual Property and Sustainability in the Business School; Artemios Bernar Pappas, postgraduate law student with a keen interest in music copyright law; and Sameera Jalan, who is a first year undergraduate and founder of Pinthread.

The Guide was designed to speak to the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s World IP Day theme for 2024, ‘IP & The SDGs: Building our common future with innovation and creativity’, and aims to bring IP and the SDGs ever closer together to ensure that developments in intellectual property in the future have sustainability at their core from the outset of policy or project planning, rather than as an afterthought. Each section of the guide is dedicated to a specific SDG, examining how intellectual property rights can both propel and sometimes hinder progress in that Goal, and what might be done to more closely embed IP into sustainable development. 

Ultimately, the Guide is intended to offer a comprehensive and thought-provoking crystallisation of how IP can be leveraged as a force for good in the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. It invites readers to consider the critical role of IP in shaping a sustainable and equitable future, and to reflect on the actions that each of us might take in our own spheres of consciousness to foster a deeper understanding of the potential of intellectual property to drive forward the global agenda for sustainable development. 

IPAN has released the interim publication on World Intellectual Property Day 2024, with the final and expanded Guide set for publication later in the year at the IPAN AGM in November, alongside a panel discussion and a reception event. View and download the Guide here: https://ipaware.org/resources/ip-guide-sdgs/.

Happy World Intellectual Property Day 2024!

Contributions of Exeter Academics & Students (reproduced with permission):

“The creative, innovative and academic works that IP protects go right to the heart of what it means to be human, and so, for IP to contribute positively to SDG16, we need to find ways to ensure that IP frameworks and systems do not distance human beings from the rights that are ours because we are human. Copyright laws, when overly broad or strictly enforced, should not be used to undermine the fundamental right to freedom of expression or to censor and suppress the free flow of information – information being an essential component of a democratic society and integral to the rule of law. IP legal frameworks should not be used to unduly restrict access or the ability to reuse legal information that is so essential to accessing and understanding justice. If we are to use IP to advance innovation and creativity towards the realisation of SDG 16, a good starting point is to reaffirm the importance of open law and open access to legal and public information, not only for the development of a culture of legal literacy and entrepreneurship but to make justice more accessible to those without the privilege of a legal education or the means to pay for legal representation.”

Dr Louise Loder, Lecturer in Law, University of Exeter; Executive Committee, Human Rights Lawyers Association; IPAN Secretariat.

“The role of intellectual property (IP) in incentivising innovations for economic gains is indisputable. But for social and environmental sustainability, there often emerges a question whether IP rights can restrict the widespread adoption of innovations needed for addressing pressing global issues such as climate change and inequality, because of their exclusivity nature. Mission driven organisations that are deliberate and intentional in aligning their IP strategies with their sustainability missions show responsible creation and exploitation of IP is achievable. For this, organisations need to move away from the mindset that IP is just a legal protection mechanism to maximise financial gains and cultivate the mindset to approach IP also as a strategic tool to nurture sustainability promoting innovations, collaborations, and ecosystems. For instance, an organisation owning a patent for a green invention can decide to share its invention (e.g., via licensing) to other sustainability promoting organisations but decide not to share with those who do not and have no intention to contribute positively to sustainability. This set-up can encourage other organisations interested in licensing the green patent to boost their sustainability credentials. Such responsible thinking towards formulating IP strategies can create social, economic, and environmental win-win for all parties involved.”

Dr Pratheeba Vimalnath, Lecturer in Innovation, Intellectual Property and Sustainability, University of Exeter Business School

“One significant development in how IP has been used to promote the goal of decent work and economic growth is through the recent developments of UK copyright law, especially in the context of the music industry. The CJEU case of Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagblades Forening in 2009 heavily shifted the standard of proving that a musical work is original, urging UK courts to consider a work original if it is the ‘author’s own intellectual creation’, with them having imparted their ‘personal touch’ to it, instead of the rather archaic Lockean-derived standard based on protecting one’s skill, effort, and judgment, as presented in the case of Walter v Lane in 1900. This lowered standard has allowed many more musical works to be protected by copyright, ultimately contributing to an ease for creators to economically exploit their efforts and intellectual creations. As recent UK cases following this standard have shown, such as Sheeran v Chokri and Smith v Dryden, ensuring that any musical creation process is rigorously and fully documented will contribute to mitigating the possibility of copyright infringement proceedings, and thus allow for an easier and more natural economic exploitation of such works by the people deserving of it.”

Artemios Bernar Pappas, Postgraduate Law Student, University of Exeter

“Intellectual property (IP) safeguards innovation, which is the heart of development. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure is a mission to construct a future where innovation and creativity are nurtured. IP empowers inventors to invent and creators to create, providing them with the incentives and recognition needed to drive innovation forward. To reassure individuals and organisations that their ideas will be safe from exploitation or theft, intellectual property provides legal protections including patents, copyrights, and trademarks. In this safe space, innovators can confidently put their energy and organisations can invest in R&D into pushing the boundaries of innovation. In addition, intellectual property eases cross-border cooperation and the exchange of information. The assurance of protection allows entrepreneurs and inventors to be open to forming collaborations. By looking at IP through a collaborative lens, partnerships across continents can speed up the adoption of green technologies, which, in turn, helps us get closer to SDG 9’s goals of building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive innovation. Intellectual property serves not only as a legal safeguard but as a catalyst for transformative change. It transforms dreams into realities, getting us closer to a future where innovation is encouraged.”

Sameera Jalan, First-year undergraduate law student, University of Exeter

For further information on the IPAN Guide to the SDGs and the University of Exeter’s corporate membership of the Intellectual Property Awareness Network, please contact Dr Louise Loder (l.m.loder@exeter.ac.uk).

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