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In brief

Consumers are demanding more from their brands and increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on the sustainability of products and companies. In response to this, the Baker McKenzie Consumer Goods & Retail industry group has produced the “CG&R and Sustainability Video Chat Series” in which experts provide short, practical insights into some of the legal considerations that companies need to keep in mind when undertaking green innovation.

In the first episode of the series, Eva-Maria Strobel, partner in Zurich, and Renata Amaral, partner at Trench Rossi Watanabe in Sao Paulo, discuss the role intellectual property can play in helping brands on their sustainability journey.

More and more, consumers are basing their purchasing decisions and brand loyalty on the sustainability of products and companies, compelling consumer facing companies to incorporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices into their operations and strategies and to increase transparency around these practices. 

For a company to meet its sustainability goals, a multitude of factors need to come into play, including behavioral change, challenging or even disrupting existing practices and supply chains, and technological innovation. 

Intellectual property (IP) rights can support green innovation by providing a competitive advantage. Any patented inventions or innovations protected by trade secrets are assets, which can be commercialized to generate income and at the same time contribute to global sustainability goals by allowing others to benefit from the innovation. 

Green innovation gives rise to a number of IP challenges, such as:

  • Finding a trademark that is both distinctive and relays the green message in a manner that cannot be considered greenwashing.
  • Ensuring that any advertising and marketing communication is in compliance with consumer protection legislation and does not mislead the public.
  • Carefully negotiating contracts with third party data and analytics software providers to make sure that the data, which is used to substantiate the company’s green claims, is reliable or guaranteed by the third party provider.
  • Carefully considering all IP rights arising from multiple parties collaborating on green innovation, such as the licensing of existing IP rights, ownership of new IP developed during the collaboration, and the parties’ rights to use the results of the collaboration.
  • Understanding the IP rights that protect the various components of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, which are used to increase the speed and accuracy of data analytics and implement new connected technologies, so as to encourage the development and use of AI and machine learning.

For more practical legal insights on key issues affecting consumer goods and retail businesses in incorporating ESG practices into their operations and strategies, tune into the Baker McKenzie Off the Shelf video chat series.


Kurt Haegeman is the global chair of Baker McKenzie's Consumer Goods and Retail Industry Group and a partner in Baker McKenzie’s Brussels office. Kurt is also a member of the Firm's Global Cartel Task Force and European Competition Law Practice Group.


Zahra Omar is a Knowledge Manager in Baker McKenzie Johannesburg office.


Karen Roberts is a Lead Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie, London office.


Julio Perez is a BD Manager IPTech and Real Estate in Baker McKenzie, Madrid office.

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