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Why IP and branding go together in protecting SDG innovations

27 April 2022 6 min read

Technological innovation should be protected by intellectual property (“IP”) rights. But to bring it to market, branding plays a crucial role.

IP rights protect more than tangible assets produced by the creator. They protect any creations of the mind through patents, copyrights, and trademarks. This may include ideas, inventions, designs, symbolism, and more.

According to the United Nations, the legal framework of IP systems encourages and facilitates the creation, development, management, and protection of all facets of IP. It serves as a foundation of innovation in our global economy. It also contributes to Sustainability Development Goals (“SDG”) Goal 9—promoting sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation.

In the face of overwhelming economic, ecological, and societal challenges, the United Nations SDGs are humanity’s blueprint for survival. More investment in research and development (“R&D”) to help find solutions is crucial. To safeguard them, filing patents to protect such solutions encourages continued innovation.

To make a difference, we must do so at scale. Protection of IP is key to this.

Encourage spending on research and development

Data shows how advancements in building IP systems relates to IP creation. It encourages investment into innovation and R&D that propel economic regeneration. For example, in Malaysia, the number of patent applications and R&D investments increased near four folds within a decade. This was after they signed the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS”) treaty in 1995.

Correlation between IP creation and economic prosperity

There is a strong correlation between IP creation and GDP growth. Across Asia, GDP on average shot up after signing the TRIPS. An impact study released by the International Trademark Association analysed five economies within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) region confirms this. From employment to share of exports, the study showcased the degree to which trademarks benefit the Singapore economy.

Foundation of innovation and branding

The world cannot afford to not exploit game-changing innovations. While patents, trademarks, and copyrights protect the innovation, their inventors would need to find a way to bring it to market.

Part of the equation is branding. As the World Intellectual Property Organisation (“WIPO”) notes, branding “is among the most valuable intangible assets companies can own”.

Traditionally, brand IP consists of a set of tangible deliverables. Most people often only regard the final visual assets as worthy of IP protection. Design strategies and high-level thinking are often viewed as pro bono publico. Strategic ideas get implemented without permission from the proposer.

Done well, branding connects innovation with commerce, making it viable to the market. One example is the EcoBricks project, which partners with Sino Inno Lab, part of a Hong Kong-based developer, Sino Group. They devised a way to upcycle local plastic waste into sustainable concrete. Branding helps to scale this innovative technology for commercial purposes.

Technological innovations gain meaning and credibility when they are aligned with a brand purpose. In the case of Sino Group, they are committed to creating better lifescapes through green living, innovative designs, and a community spirit.

In summary, IP systems combined with applicable branding solutions support technological development and foster creativity. This is crucial to the ideation of SDG solutions that, in turn, drive sustainable brand value.

2020. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). United Nations: Department of Economic and Social Affairs—Sustainable Development. Source.
Barton, D. 2017. Trademarks are a Major Contribution to GDP, Exports, and Jobs says Study. Asia IP. Source.
Lim, H.G. 2010. “Impact of Intellectual Property System on Economic Growth: Fact-Finding Surveys and Analyses in the Asian Region—Malaysia”. Intellectual Property in Asian Countries: Studies on Infrastructure and Economic Impact. United Nations University. ISBN 978-92-805-1926-6.
Love, B., Helmers, C., Eberhardt, M. 2016. Patent Litigation in China: Protecting Rights or the Local Economy? Santa Clara University. Source.

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