IP is short for Intellectual Property, and IPR stands for Intellectual Property Rights. These rights can be registered and enable you to protect your company’s intellectual property – your inventions, creative work, brand, etc. IPR is occasionally referred to as Industrial Property Rights.
IP rights can play a crucial role in a company’s success story. Therefore, it is important for companies to systematically manage and protect their intellectual property. In fact, this is one of the reasons for the ambiguous goal of Finland’s new national IP strategy: to establish IP competence as a fundamental skill for everyone.
Unfortunately, many companies are still missing the right kind of IP piece in their foundation. One reason for this is simply lack of awareness. The basics of intellectual property rights are rarely covered as part of educational programs. Further, they are bound to fall by the wayside in work as well, unless working specifically with IP issues.
Information about intellectual property rights is available from various sources, but it may be difficult to find useful information if you don’t know the right questions. Therefore, all of us working in the IP field have the important task of contributing to raising awareness. Ideally, we should start building people’s IP competence early on, such as a part of their education.
Sharing knowledge at an early stage
So, when is the right time to start educating people about IPR, and by whom? To raise a genuine interest in IP early on, it would be good to reach students at several levels.
On 22 January 2020, the Finnish Association for Industrial Property Rights (STY) held the first ever IPR career evening for students, where the participants could hear career stories from people working in different IPR roles.
The career evening was a success – the students learned about the professions of a judge, head of IPR, IPR lawyer, IPR specialist, and patent attorney in a panel discussion where the IPR experts shared their stories.
One of the topics of the evening was how the IPR field offers many career paths, also for those aiming for an international career. Another interesting theme was the key role of intellectual property rights in achieving sustainable development, as for instance patents help to bring sustainable products to the market.
Summer jobs and trainee programs
The most interesting topics for the students and graduates during the career evening were the trainee programs and other job opportunities offered by companies. As it turned out, there are many opportunities to learn about IPR through work.
For example, each year my employer Papula-Nevinpat offers opportunities for young people to get to know the IPR field through a summer job. In 2020 we had as many as nine summer workers. In addition to summer jobs, Papula-Nevinpat has been training new patent attorneys into the field through a trainee program since 2017. You can read some stories from our trainees here (in Finnish).
Stronger IP competence for new generations
Hopefully, events like the career evening as well as work experience will help to raise a new generation having a basic understanding of intellectual property already at the very beginning of their careers, whether they’d end up working specifically with IP matters or not.
This would bring us one step closer to the goal of finding the right IP piece to the foundation of even more companies. The aim is to avoid common IPR pitfalls and strengthen the company’s competitive edge.