Powering affordable clean air in new markets through pro bono legal support

This impact story is part of a new series to celebrate the extraordinary pro bono projects undertaken by legal teams to support NGOs and social enterprises with the support of TrustLaw. All projects mentioned in this series are nominated for this year’s TrustLaw Awards. Find out more.

Across the world, nine out of ten people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. As our world advances, industrialisation and urbanisation have spurred economic growth, but often with damaging effect to the air quality. Even before the emergence of COVID-19, World Health Organization (WHO) data showed that breathing polluted air contributed to seven million premature deaths each year. In light of the ongoing pandemic, clean air becomes paramount to maintaining good health.

While solving air pollution is challenging, there are opportunities to ensure we breathe cleaner air. TrustLaw member Smart Air, a certified B* corporation that reinvests 100 per cent of its profits, has committed to helping people breathe better through their low-cost air purifier. The founders of Smart Air invented their own air purifier in China in 2013 when they could not find affordable ones in the market. Starting with a small market in China, today they have scaled their operations and are supplying air purifiers in more than 10 countries.

It is often expensive and complicated for social enterprises to navigate legal compliances and regulations. Therefore, Smart Air turned to TrustLaw for support when expanding its mission to bring clean air to people in other countries.

In 2021, Smart Air was connected with four law firms – DLA PiperBaker Botts LLPWeerawong, Chinnavat & Partners Ltd and SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan –  across six countries to help it register the trademark of its brand and logo. This ensured its intellectual property rights are protected, allowing Smart Air’s invention to be marketed in more countries.

“One of the amazing things with the TrustLaw platform is the legal support offered around the world. An example is trademarking the name ‘Smart Air’ and avoiding any potential conflicts when entering into new markets,” said Paddy Robertson, founder and CEO of Smart Air.

He continued: “Without TrustLaw, we may still be a social enterprise solving China’s air pollution only. Now, we are a social enterprise focusing on solving the world’s air pollution problem of pollen, the additional COVID-19 in recent years, and other pollutants. We are an international platform now, and a big part of which is thanks to TrustLaw.”

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
Author: Fiona Li