Future innovators: Understand IP to build a better future

It is up to young people to define the future, writes Fidelma Whelan from MacLachlan & Donaldson Intellectual Property Attorneys.  But to do so they need to understand intellectual property, trademarks, copyright and more..

World Intellectual Property Day, which is held every year on 26 April, is this year celebrating the inventiveness of youth with the theme “IP and Youth: Innovating for the Future.” The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) acknowledges that “across the globe, young people are stepping up to innovation challenges, using their energy and ingenuity, curiosity and creativity to steer a course towards a better future.” 

Young people are the creators, innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. It is their creativity and ingenuity that drives change and creates pathways to a better future for the whole globe. 

“With IP, individuals and businesses create value and can do better, communities can thrive, and national economies can prosper”

This is as true in Ireland as in the other regions of the world. There are around 1.8bn young people (under 24) in the world today. Ninety percent of them live in developing countries. The proportion of young people (under 35) is set to increase in the coming years.

WIPO states: “World Intellectual Property Day 2022 is an opportunity for young people to find out how IP rights can support their goals, help transform their ideas into reality, generate income, create jobs and make a positive impact on the world around them. With IP rights, young people have access to some of the key tools they need to advance their ambitions.”

Innovation helps societies to prosper

This year’s campaign is focused on helping young people to gain a better understanding of how the tools of the IP system, ranging across the full breadth of trademarks, patents, design right, copyright, trade secrets and more, can support them in their ambitions to innovate and build a better future for themselves, and for us all.  With IP, individuals and businesses create value and can do better, communities can thrive, and national economies can prosper.

“Intellectual Property rights can help transform ideas into reality and make a positive impact on the world”

The WIPO Gallery of innovators features key change makers from around the world who have been nominated for the work they are doing to create a better future.

Ireland has a wide and varied range of supports for young entrepreneurs, from programmes to inspire innovation and invention, to others which support that innovation in gaining a solid footing in the business world. 

The BT Young Scientist Exhibition is one of the best known, propelling many Irish young scientists on their way to success, not least of whom is Patrick Collison, one of the Collison brothers, founders of Stripe, the online payments company valued in the billions.

Other programmes that support our innovators include Young Social Innovators , New Frontiers, Inner City Enterprise, Student Entrepreneur Awards and even the Junior Entrepreneur Programme for primary school kids. Patents have been granted to people as young as 5 or 6 years of age proving that you’re never too young to be an innovator.

So, how do you protect those “ideas and works”? By securing any Intellectual Property rights contained therein.  MacLachlan & Donaldson Intellectual Property Attorneys are proud to have supported finalists in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year such as Edge Innovate in the protection of their IP.

Intellectual Property is an umbrella term and is the collective name of a number of differing rights which may be used to protect different aspects of a product. 

For example, a trademark refers to those signs which identify the brand and can be protected by registration, while copyright, which automatically comes into existence upon the creation of an artistic and literary work, would protect images and advertising material used in connection with the product. Obtaining a patent could protect the way a product works, whereas a design right would protect the way a product looks. 

Intellectual Property rights can help transform ideas into reality and make a positive impact on the world. For example, a patent can provide a monopoly on the invention for up to twenty years.  In return for that protection details of the invention are published allowing the knowledge to be shared and increasing the capacity for further innovation. Filing under the Patent Cooperation Treaty allows applicants to postpone major costs by up to 30 months, which can help with cash flow. It creates licensing opportunities and facilitates foreign partnerships, which can help share the burden of costs and enable further innovation.

A registered trademark is one of the most enduring business assets, provided it is used and renewed. It can be used to obtain funding from financial institutions, while selling or licensing the trademark creates revenue which can be invested in innovation and creation.

The protection of any Intellectual Property, including designs, copyright, trade secrets or geographical indications, serves to increase the value proposition of your product or service, allowing you to reach further, collaborate more and continue to innovate.

MacLachlan & Donaldson are always proud to work with young entrepreneurs in the protection of their Intellectual Property. By working closely with entrepreneurs, MacLachlan & Donaldson can recognise new and emerging IP and help guide the entrepreneur in bringing the potential value to fruition. To learn more email mail@maclachlan.ie

Fidelma Whelan
Fidelma Whelan is the Managing Director at MacLachlan & Donaldson. She is proud to lead a team of experienced and dedicated IP professionals in guiding and protecting IP rights across a broad range of clients.