Building IPR awareness through IPR strategy

4/2016 16.12.2016
(Photo: istockphoto.com/Mohitchoudhary)
In many cases IPR might be considered to merely involve registrations and enforcement and is a playing field of the legists, which may cause negative and bureaucratic mindset in those who are not so familiar with IPR matters.

In order to change the mindset, we need to raise awareness of IPR. There are many programs on-going globally, e.g. WIPO is doing great work on building respect for IP, but we all can make a difference and raise the awareness in our own working environment. The goal is to make people understand that IPR provides benefits for both owners and users and the role of IPR is to build up an environment where innovation and creation can thrive, not to restrict.

Get management on board

Building respect starts by developing understanding, thus raising awareness should be an essential part of a company´s IPR strategy. What is the usefulness of an IPR strategy if there are no concrete actions taken in deploying the strategy. We need to inform and educate people. We need to make the management realize the importance of IPR in business strategy and risk management.  IPR strategy should present concrete actions to ensure that all functions are aware of the importance of the IPR matters and take IPR into account in their daily work.

One good way of raising the awareness and commitment of the management could be by establishing an IPR evaluation, return on investment type of indicators are the language the management understands and is interested in. Once management is on board, it is easier to deploy the strategy and raise awareness in the whole organization. 

Know your audience

Important part of the deploying of the IPR strategy is to plan how to communicate the strategy to different stakeholders, the communication must be based on the audience. In the creative sector the designers might feel that IPR hinders creativity and limits the freedom of expression, it might be a very sensitive and emotional matter to creative workers.

In order for a designer to be able to exploit their handprint in a commercial way, they need to be aware of the importance of IPR for their own good. As each outcome should be an original outcome of the designer´s independent creative work, it is an essential part to describe the process of creation in order to be able to utilize e.g. copyright as form of protection, to be able to justify that the design is not identical to any existing design and it has an individual character. In cases where the designer grants all commercial IP rights to a company, it is also much easier for the company to monitor the interests of both parties if the creation process is described properly and the company´s responsibility is to collect proof of use related to the products they produce. We need to sell IPR to the creative workers as an enabler not a limiter.

The base work is to establish an IPR strategy, but that´s only the starting point, it´s the deployment and how we communicate the strategy to each party that counts. The more creative and innovative ways we find to communicate and educate IPR, the more appealing it becomes. We need to start marketing IPR more inventively, make it more appealing and fashionable, one good example of innovative and target group based knowledge sharing was the Slush 2016 side event IPR Garage!

Eevi Rinne
Legal and IPR Coordinator
Marimekko