November 7, 2018
Patent attorney Marjut Honkasalo affects the future of the IP sector in European organisations. As a patent attorney, she has the keys to protect products and services of many fields.
I am curious by nature and want to learn more of the world. Thanks to our customers, I am well aware of what’s going on around us. It is them, after all, who make the inventions and innovations.
I like it that in my work I am constantly working with new things and can combine my knowledge of patenting with it. One example of a fascinating task is a medical invention, whose advancing requires knowledge of biochemistry, medicine, ICT and patenting. The task can only succeed with good cooperation of the team.
Grey area expanding
I joined Kolster towards the end of the millennium to work on patents in the telecommunications sector, at a time when the 2G technology was making way for 3G.
At that time, a text message notification could be received on a call received at a voice mail, just like now - but when several voice mail messages were received, each one was notified of by a separate text message. We patented a solution in which only one text message was received regardless of the number of messages left at the voice mail.
These days patenting of this type is more abstract and complicated for the reason that we store our messages in the cloud and not in text message servers.
ICT has a lot of grey zones, involving patents of which you can never tell in advance whether they’ll be granted or not. The Internet of Things, or IoT, has brought this ICT-related problem to other fields of technology. Patents have also become financially more important, so the terms and conditions of patenting in Europe have been made more specific and strict. On the other hand, China, for example, has at the same time relieved its demands for software patenting by allowing program product claims.
Part of my job is to keep up-to-date on IPR interpretations and, for example, what in inventions is classified at present as technical and what is no, or what can be considered abstract. It would also be awesome to be able to predict the future! Although EPO, the European Patent Office, aims to be anticipatory, an application written today may only be examined there after a couple of years - and by that time, an interpretation may have changed from the current one.
Artificial intelligence protected work
I am actively involved in international patent organisations. I represent Finland in the European Patent institute and I’m a member of EPO’s (European Patent Praxis Committee) as well as advisory committee.
Recently, EPO organised a conference where we pondered what will happen when artificial intelligence starts to make inventions. Who will then be named as the inventor? Or how to protect in a sensible manner inventions making use of artificial intelligence? What about how to evaluate whether the invention is inventive or not? These are truly interesting questions to which we do not yet have answers.
My profession is at least to some extent protected against artificial intelligence. After all, artificial intelligence is based on the information that is available. In patenting, we focus on the new that does not yet exist.
All skills put to use
I remember working in my first job with Lohja Oy and answering the phone by using my own name. The male person at the other end of the line said that he had actually asked to speak to an expert and not a secretary. I answered politely that at the moment I’m the best expert, so how about giving me a chance. I was able to instruct the male person on how to lay bricks in a block wall so convincingly that he offered to buy me a lottery ticket to thank me - and to apologise for his doubting my skills.
I’m used to working in a male-dominated field since my student days. When I was first studying civil engineering construction at the Helsinki University of Technology in Otaniemi, Espoo, there were eight girls per one hundred boys. Later on I also studied communications and programming.
My degree on construction relates to concrete technology. It was quite a surprise when I recently had the chance to patent a precast concrete invention by the artist Renata Jakowleff. I asked myself whether this can really be true. I was able to make use of my know-how in a diverse way, and so one circle sort of closed.
Partner, European Patent Attorney
MSc (Civil Engineering), ICT
+358 20 1370589
+358 50 5242413