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2024 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

3. Are We Moving Towards a More Sustainable World? Insights from Patent Analysis of Chemical Inventions

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Abstract

Industrialized economies have historically maintained the hope that the advances in science, technology and innovation would have offered to humanity a wide range of options to improve its well-being and attain sustained economic growth. The transition towards a high technological frontier arising from the rapid advances of science, technology and innovation has opened a debate on the relations between innovation-induced industrial activities, related possible social and environmental threats and the role of policies to keep up with industry developments. To investigate those relations, I collect a unique dataset that includes patent applications in chemical technologies and analyse their disclosed groups of compounds by combining patent analysis with computational chemistry, and I develop a novel methodology to measure patent toxicity, that is, the extent to which a patent includes ‘components’ (i.e. chemical compounds) that are potentially toxic to humans and/or the environment. To illustrate the proposed methodology, I analyse the toxicity of 12 regulated chemical technologies as the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in comparison with a control group of unregulated technologies. The measurement of patent toxicity opens up interesting avenues for future research and for policy.

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Footnotes
1
I decided to focus on the claim section to account for the extent (i.e. the scope) of the protection sought in a patent document (Bekkers et al. 2020; Kuhn and Thompson 2019; Marco et al. 2019).
 
2
The EU regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) addresses the production and use of chemical substances and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment. In particular, it includes QSAR models as alternative tools for risk assessment of chemical substances.
 
3
For instance, consider the patent p disclosing compounds A and B in the claims section. Compound A is shown to be toxic for mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, steroidal activity and liver damage endpoints, scoring 5 in the human health toxicity class. Compound B is shown to be toxic for the carcinogenicity endpoint, scoring 1 in the human health toxicity class. As the total detected endpoints for patent p are 6 over two compounds, E_Tox_HUMAN_p is calculated as 6/(2*5) = 0.6 where (2*5) = 10 is the ‘theoretical’ maximum, indicating that the patent is toxic for all the endpoints in the human health toxicity category.
 
4
For instance, consider a patent p disclosing compounds A and B in the claim section. Compound A is shown to be toxic for mutagenicity, carcinogenicity, teratogenicity, steroidal activity and liver damage endpoints, thus scoring 5 in the human health toxicity class. Compound B is shown to be toxic for the carcinogenicity endpoint, thus scoring 1 in the human health toxicity class. As the total detected endpoints for patent p are 6 across two compounds, C_Tox_HUMAN_p is calculated as (5/6)2 + (1/6)2 = 0.7222. The result (0.7222) denotes high concentration of human health toxicity due to a higher contribution of compound A.
 
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Metadata
Title
Are We Moving Towards a More Sustainable World? Insights from Patent Analysis of Chemical Inventions
Author
Gianluca Biggi
Copyright Year
2024
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-52689-3_3

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