October 21, 2019
IPR lawyer Hannes Kankaanpää makes an agile transition from consultant to project manager, as job descriptions at the Kolster Legal unit match the scope of each person’s expertise. Courage and the desire to explore things are needed when serving creators of new technologies and products.
As a rule, we play with our own strengths, that is, the specific knowledge related to IPR. However, my tasks can vary between heaven and earth, as we strive to serve our clients on a one-stop shop basis.
My strengths include diverse IPR expertise, ranging from law, agreements and disputes to commercialisation, pricing and valuation. However, my core competence is in software and software-related IPR, such as copyrights, patents and open source licences and software-related agreements, to name a few.
The spectrum of my tasks is extensive. Currently, I am working on a comprehensive analysis where a foreign company wants to transfer its entire business, subsidiaries, assets and shareholders from abroad to a company to be established in Finland. The company's entire IP practically entails software, so its transfer from one country to another involves a large number of reports, agreements, export controls, tax issues, as well as certain types of company law and accounting issues. Certain parts must be acquired through partners, so I also act as a project manager in managing the whole excercise.
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IPR risks can be turned into opportunities
In business, IPR has long had a slightly negative connotation. Many companies focus on it only from a risk management perspective. However, the best result is achieved when IPR and related activities are seen as an integral part of business. This requires a clear and continuously updated IPR strategy as part of the business strategy of the company.
Traditionally, law is based on risk minimisation, but in business, and especially when creating new business, it is sometimes necessary to take risks. However, this should always be done consciously and as deliberately as possible. In new business creation, we regularly encounter situations where we interpret legislation from a new perspective or prepare an agreement for a service that does not yet exist. In those situations, the solutions require creativity. In my work, I tend to focus on finding solutions and opportunities rather than emphasising risks, while listening carefully to the client and their situation.
It’s no use shouting from the trenches
Before Kolster, I spent a decade as a lawyer and IPR manager at VTT. I was responsible for the software portfolio and related IPR as well as software licensing and commercialisation. I liked the fact that the work was not purely legal. I got to deal specifically with IPR issues and enjoyed working with commercialisation and new technologies in particular.
At Kolster, I can use my expertise even more extensively and help companies of different shapes and sizes in IPR matters. Occasionally, I have client meetings, or I prepare draft agreements, memos, valuation reports, or handle litigation. I also work closely with all the patent and trademark attorneys in the company.
Our Legal unit is relatively new, a kind of in-house start-up. We are expected to produce high-quality work and, at the same time, to develop and experiment with new ideas, and we are not burdened with a deeply rooted rigid approach. Such a working environment attracted me.
I constantly face novel questions that do not have ready answers. That is why in my work, you must boldly seize opportunities, explore what you do not yet know, and trust your own skills despite everything. In order to cope, you must be flexible, accurate and tolerate pressure. You must also know how to negotiate. The best result is usually not achieved by being aggressive and creating a strong confrontation. All proposals must have sound argumentation. The best outcome is achieved by justifying and listening, not by harping on and shouting from the trenches.
Can artificial intelligence be an inventor or author?
I have never had a clear career plan. I got gradually interested in IPR law during my studies. This was influenced by public IPR issues and the fact that IPR rights were heavily related to the things I consume: books, films, games and other consumer products and technologies. At the time, Google and other big players were also testing the boundaries of legislation with their business and new projects. Open source and software issues came into the picture later through studies and work.
After getting started, I wanted to deepen my knowledge and broaden my view, particularly on the commercial side of IPR, to the extent that I began to pursue a second degree. In addition to software expertise, my knowledge covers the IPR areas of patents, trademarks, copyright, infringements, contract law, commercialisation and licensing. I also carry out IPR valuation for companies.
You are never ready in this field. An interest in new is a necessity, as legislation, legal practice and the world are constantly evolving. There is a constant stream of new business models, technologies and various platforms for conducting business. They affect the client's market as well as their negotiating position on an assignment-specific basis. For example, the debate on artificial intelligence has progressed to a point where we can expect the first official positions on whether AI can be an inventor or a copyrighted author. The new Copyright Directive and Finnish Trademark Act have also brought changes to IPR legislation, not to mention brexit. The trade warfare has also been visible on my desk.
Read another career story: Virtuoso of new technologies powered by challenges
Research is assisted by artificial intelligence
Although work is becoming digitalised, people cannot be fully outsourced from this profession. Problem solving, interpretation and work that requires creative input is not very easily automated. In addition, human interaction in the IPR field, as well as in the field of law, is still of great importance.
However, routine work will hopefully be further automated with law-related technologies and new tools and aids. We are already using many technologies to support IPR work and assist with research, including automated agreement creation, agreement management systems, smart analysis tools and AI-based solutions. There are also a variety of tools that visualise information, such as services used for patent landscape analyses.
Nobody has yet been able to create very smooth and all-encompassing digital systems for managing IPR portfolios, even if there have been some attempts.
See Kolster’s vacancies.