The UK IP team from international law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) has celebrated World IP Day by reflecting on recent work to support the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), in view of this year's theme 'IP and the SDGs: Building our common future with innovation and creativity'.

How does IP fit with the SDGs?

IP is essential to achieve many of the SDGs. The most obvious link is the role IP plays in the transition to sustainability via the creation of new innovations and economic growth.

WBD's IP team routinely supports progress towards a number of sustainability goals, including the goals focusing on clean water and sanitation, industry, innovation, and infrastructure, and fostering partnerships.

This has been done through the IP team's support of the OFWAT Innovation Fund, bringing new ideas, collaborations, products and services into the water sector and build capacity to serve customers and the environment.

New innovations which the team has supported by providing IP advice and guidance to includes alternatives to chlorine in disinfecting drinking water, to reduce the carbon footprint of the energy-intensive chemical, improvements in analysing water quality incident reports, to use of innovative 'spray on' liners to repair burst sewer pipes more efficiently.

The team has also provided support towards the sustainable goals of quality education and gender equality, by working to further learning, social mobility, and diversity in the intellectual property field by taking part in various activities including the innovative ADAPT network and The University of Greenwich School of Law and Criminology Mentoring Scheme on IP Law and Practice.

Originally formed in December 2021 as 'Advancing Diversity Across Patent Teams', ADAPT links together more than 75 companies across the globe including Google, Amazon, Meta, Microsoft, and Disney to scale individual company DEI programmes across the IP profession to make them more accessible for all.

The WBD UK IP team is currently assisting with the wider rollout of the programme within the UK and European markets, providing initial assistance on career frameworks and potential pathways to individuals looking to enter the profession through its mentoring scheme.

Alongside this, the team has been involved in a mentorship scheme which looks to help the University of Greenwich's School of Law and Criminology students get the skills they need to build awareness of different areas of law.

WBD is working as part of a team of 50 lawyers and police officers delivering the scheme, with its IP team leading a series of three IP workshops with a focus on IP careers and routes into the profession and practical insights into both the Commercialisation of IP and Contentious issues in IP.

Alison Orr, IP Specialist at WBD, said: 

"World IP Day is just one day where we can highlight the incredible benefits this industry can provide to the world, but continuing education for all on how to access the industry and bring new ideas to the table is something which needs to continue on a daily basis.

We are thrilled to support the University of Greenwich's mentoring initiative to improve social mobility and diversity in the law and to be working as part of the ADAPT network in delivering new ways to increase diversity and inclusion within the industry. New voices means new perspectives which can only boost IP's role as a catalyst for global transformation and growth.

Alongside fostering new pathways and career options for those looking into the industry, our involvement with educational schemes means we can provide the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs with the tools needed to build new technologies which will transform our world for the better."

Carol Withey, Associate Professor in Law from the University of Greenwich, said 

"The University of Greenwich School of Law and Criminology would like to send a massive thank you to our amazing partner Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP.

WBD genuinely understand the importance of improving social mobility and diversity in the law. Our law students are incredibly lucky to have WBD lawyers supporting our law students by delivering the Commercial Law and Practice Mentor scheme and the Intellectual Property Law and Practice Mentor Scheme."

The team's leadership on the ADAPT Europe mentorship scheme has also already been regarded as a vital resource to those looking to break into the industry, with one testimonial stating: 

"It truly means a lot, especially considering the challenges I've faced since graduating with my Master's Degree… Dealing with unemployment in Italy and across various jurisdictions in the EU has indeed been daunting… [WBD's] guidance and the resources you've shared are invaluable as I navigate this career transition."

Other feedback has included 

"I really liked how you openly talked about your own career journey and key aspects of your career transition. I could really relate to it. The sources you provided are very comprehensive especially for [my needs in the] UK and NL…… I am clear how I should proceed and what should be the time line. Thank you for that."

Quality education is just one sustainable goal WBD aligns itself to as a responsible business, with all overarching responsible business goals aligned with key elements of the charter, including reduced inequalities, climate action, and good health and wellbeing.

The firm has also supported affordable and clean energy through its building up and championing of methods to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help clients transition to net zero energy, including a focus on energy transition at our recent Transatlantic Lawyer Network and Global Energy Transition Surveys.

The firm's IP team has also worked to boost good health and wellbeing and address poverty by providing pro bono work to a charity focusing on broadening access to cycling in Bristol by helping register brand assets and supporting the North West Leeds Foodbank drive, donating around £5,500 through food provisions and fund-raising.

For more information on WBD's responsible business work, please click here.