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'It was great to meet IPR professionals face-to-face'


Changes are on the horizon in the field of intellectual property rights (IPR), both in Finland and globally. Kolster's seminar delved into the evolving operational environment of IPR, offering participants insights into commercializing IPR and information on the EU's design rights reform.

Held in Helsinki on March 19th by Kolster, the breakfast seminar on the changing operational environment of IPR drew the interest of IPR industry experts. The seminar covered topics such as the current state of the reform of the Finnish Patent Act and the EU's design rights reform.

VTT's IPR Sales Lead, Kai-Erik Elers, shared VTT's perspectives on commercializing innovations. Other speakers included Legal Counsel Minna Aalto-Setälä from the Finland Chamber of Commerce, and Kolster's own experts.

We asked three participants about the significance of IPR for their employers and what the seminar offered them.

Seminaari 19032024 - Jussi Salo

Patent Officer Jussi Salo, ABB Oy Motors & Generators

What significance does IPR have for your company's business?

IPR holds significant importance for ABB's business. Our IP strategy varies from defensive to offensive across different business units. Mostly, it leans towards defensive. In the realm of electrical investment products, such as electric motors and frequency converters, the technology is quite mature, and inventions often consist of small improvements to existing technology.

Naturally, the results of our R&D efforts need protection, as do our supply chains, since a large portion of ABB's production involves assembly. We utilize all forms of IP protection available, such as patents and design rights, to safeguard our innovations.

What are the current prospects for your business?

In Finland, ABB Oy had a good year in 2023. This year, business appears to be more challenging, with fierce competition. A considerable portion of our business operates on a lag cycle, stemming from the time required for the sale, production, and delivery of investment products, which can take up to a couple of years.

What was your main takeaway from the Kolster seminar?

It's always worthwhile to attend seminars if they spark even one good idea. Thus far, we haven't succeeded in commercializing any IPR from ABB's large motor and generator business that we don't use ourselves. VTT's Kai-Erik Elers provided a few thoughts that could be helpful to us.

Kirsi Hakkila

IP Manager Kirsi Hakkila, Helvar

What significance does IPR have for your company's business?

The lighting industry is active in patenting. Patenting and other intellectual property rights secure our business and help us provide innovative solutions that add value to our customers.

What are the current prospects for your company's business?

Our prospects are good. Helvar operates in many countries, which helps balance fluctuations. The use of lighting control and lighting data in support of other functions in intelligent buildings is on the rise. Lighting control brings energy savings and enhances well-being, so we're riding the wave of megatrends.

What was your main takeaway from the Kolster seminar?

VTT's Kai-Erik Elers' talk on commercializing patents was interesting, and I even had a chat with him after the presentation. I gained new insights into patent licensing in China and patenting in India. Updates on Finland's patent legislation were also intriguing, and it was reassuring to hear that maintenance fees for the unitary patent weren't raised.

Seminaari 19032024 - Erik Niemelä

Innovation Officer Erik Niemelä, University of Turku

What significance does IPR have for your university?

Intellectual property rights are a crucial part of technology transfer and commercialization for the University of Turku. Especially, projects funded by Business Finland for "research to business" facilitate a path for researchers to establish spinout companies originating from the university.

What are the current prospects for innovation and commercialization for your university?

Innovation activities contribute to the university's societal impact. Transferring research results to companies enables both new business activities and the renewal of existing ones. Currently, one challenge is finding funding for new companies. The world is in upheaval, with economic conditions and inflation eroding capital, which weakens investments in new ventures—such as spinouts.

What was your main takeaway from the Kolster seminar?

It was fantastic to meet IPR professionals in person. What stuck with me from the talks was the anticipation of what the future holds, especially now that the EU has just approved the reform of design rights regulation.