IPR University Center goes Germany – Graduate Schools Launch a 4-year Cooperation Project

(IPRinfo 1/2008)

Päivi Helander
IPR University Center

IPR University Center coordinates and promotes education of and research into issues of intellectual and industrial property rights in Finland. This mission is realised by organising seminars and congresses, running a graduate school, distributing information and participating in national and international activities related to IPR research and education.

Last Autumn, IPR University Center’s graduate school INNOCENT and the graduate school Intellectual Property and the Public Domain, based at the University of Bayreuth, launched a large-scale cooperation project, which will continue with joint seminars and exchange of doctoral students and academics in 2008-2011. The funding for this project is secured by the Academy of Finland (for INNOCENT) and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (for Bayreuth).

The first joint seminar will take place in Bayreuth on 3 April 2008. In connection with the seminar, an international conference on “Intellectual Property and International Private Law” will take place on 4-5 April with, for example, Rochelle Dreyfuss (New York University), Annette Kur (Max Planck Institute, Munich), Graeme Dinwoodie (Chicago-Kent College of Law) and Marcus Norrgård (HANKEN) as speakers. The first Finnish joint seminar will be an international conference “One Right System for IPRs – Vision Impossible?” on 1-3 October, 2008 in Helsinki.

The exchange of academics starts in March 2008 with Professor Ansgar Ohly from the University of Bayreuth giving a lecture in Helsinki to doctoral students on the interface between IP and unfair competition law. In autumn 2008, academics from Finland will on their turn give lectures in Bayreuth.

Promoting research is part of IPR University Center’s mission
In addition to the new cooperation project with Bayreuth, IPR University Center fulfils its mission of promoting IP law research in a number of ways. The founders of the Institute (five universities and several leading companies and government bodies) found that research into intellectual property issues was not at par with other fields in Finland. The tasks of the new Institute in 1999 were defined as coordinating and promoting the education of and the research into intellectual property law.

In order to increase the quantity and to safeguard the quality of IP related doctoral dissertations, the Institute decided to seek funding for a high-level graduate school of its own.

The first step in this direction was a grant by the Academy of Finland to six Finnish IPR-related projects at different universities for a 4-year period ending in 2004. The IPR University Center had, in line with its mission, a coordinating role, which comprised of arranging seminars and a study trip to the European Court of Justice as well as creating a web site for distributing information. Those six projects resulted in quite a few doctor’s theses and licentiate papers, and many other dissertations were given a good start.

The culmination of this first round of funding was the international conference “IPR beyond Rights” in 2004, where the researchers in the different projects presented and discussed their works with renowned specialists. The Institute also published the papers in a conference publication.

Awareness of IPR has risen dramatically at every level
By 2005, the awareness of the immense economic and social implications of intellectual property rights had soared to new levels in Finland. The Institute managed to secure funding from the Academy of Finland for a four-year graduate school for five full-time doctoral students.

The Innovation Incentives and the Regulatory Infrastructure graduate school INNOCENT is led by Professor Niklas Bruun, the Director of IPR University Center. It began its activities in January 2007 with five full time doctoral students representing three continents. The students were chosen by an open and tough competition, which attracted applications from all over the world.

INNOCENT activities have been planned so that other PhD students from different Finnish universities may also participate in certain courses, seminars and visits.

Integrating theory and practice
IPR University Center seeks cooperation with all actors in the IP field both in education and research. Therefore, INNOCENT, too, has a formal cooperation agreement with several Finnish and foreign universities as well as with Finnish companies and government agencies.

The cooperating universities inform each other about relevant courses and post-graduate activities. The foreign universities offer, where possible, an opportunity for shorter study visits and also longer stays.

Professor Bruun stresses that the IP research vision of the Institute comprises not only legal, but also economic, technical and sociological approaches to intellectual property issues. Through this multidisciplinary approach the Center endeavours to create and strenthen networks between researchers in different fields of science.

Education supporting research
By January 2008, IPR University Center had organised nearly 200 seminars of different types, several international congresses and special customised courses on a specified theme for companies or universities. Most seminars are addressed to business people and practising lawyers with the objective of deepening and widening their competence.

The task of “promoting education” also means that the Institute encourages teaching of IPR issues at all levels at all universities and schools in Finland. For instance, the Institute is promoting and enhancing the two-year Masters Program in IP Law at Hanken School of Economics.

According to IPR University Center’s general secretary Marja-Leena Mansala, it must have been the Institute’s acknowledged role and proven record in advancing IP understanding in Finland that contributed to the favourable funding decision for INNOCENT as well as to the role of the Institute in various strategic IPR related governmental projects.

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