Extinguishing Forest Fires with Innovation

June 7, 2022

A new report published jointly by the Portuguese and Spanish intellectual property offices looks at the evolution of patent applications in the field of firefighting, examining how innovation and promising firefighting technologies can prevent, control, and manage wildfires – a phenomenon made worse in recent years by climate change.

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 2021 was the seventh consecutive year when the global average temperature has been more than 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels – inching closer to the 2°C limit of the 2015 Paris Agreement.


Consequently, a more significant proportion of our planet is experiencing longer, drier seasons resulting in an increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires – which in turn releases more carbon dioxide (CO2) and other Greenhouse Gas emissions.

Even more alarming, burns are now occurring in tropical forests, places once spared. The aftermath leaves a heavy toll on the local environment, economy, and human well-being.

The new publication details the accelerated increase in research and development in firefighting technologies addressing this worrying trend.

The Portuguese Institute of Industrial Property (INPI) and the Spanish Patent and Trademark Office (OEPM) recently published their joint study, Patents and forest fire control, analyzing the evolution of patents related to the management of forest fires.

I am heartened by the strong collaboration between INPI and OEPM and congratulate them on this valuable initiative. I was impressed by the study’s findings, such as the use of digital technologies, drones, and artificial intelligence to prevent and combat forest fires.

WIPO Director General Daren Tang

The report found that 357.66% more patent documents were submitted worldwide in 2021 compared to 2011 – a testament to the rise in promising innovative technologies in controlling wildfires. Furthermore, it goes into detail as to why only a small number of these filings crossed national borders. 

Among the report's other key findings

  • Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, INPI and OEPM noted 58.30% more patents regarding forest fires globally in 2020 than in 2019.
  • The use of artificial intelligence, drones, and other digital technologies has accelerated in recent years.
  • Companies from Australia, Russia, and Spain produce the majority of patent applications in firefighting-related technologies.
  • Post-fire restoration is the least patented sector and therefore presents many opportunities for innovation.

The report also contains policy perspectives and initiatives adopted on the peninsula to fight and control forest fires. Forest fires, also known as wildfires, are unplanned, uncontrolled, and unpredictable blazes. “Controlled fires” are purpose-made burns for forest management and have other positive attributes. The WIPO GREEN database contains a list of climate-friendly innovations for wildfire management and possibilities for technical collaboration. The report is also available on our database.


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