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Intellectual property – young entrepreneurs learn from the mistakes of large enterprises

Young entrepreneurs who are familiar trade marks and copyright are at an advantage. This is why teams participating in Young Enterprise Switzerland (YES) learn how to avoid making mistakes when dealing with these IP rights in a workshop led by an IPI professional.

Matthias Käch explains the basics of trade marks and copyright.
Matthias Käch explains the basics of trade marks and copyright. Photo: IPI

Today at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) in Bern, Senior IP Trainer Matthias Käch is introducing 20 young people to the subject of IP rights. “In these workshops, I teach the basics of intellectual property. The emphasis is on trade marks and copyright as every team has to deal with them,” says the expert. This is the tenth YES workshop this year and Matthias Käch has trained 200 young people so far. At the end of October, the IPI will coach teams in Ticino for the first time.

 

The workshops are part of the YES Company Programme. In teams, young people run a mini company for one year under real-life conditions. The IPI is one of the national partners. The group that proves to have developed the best knowledge of IP will receive the IP Management Award at the end of May.

  

It’s not just about protection

Back to the workshop – on the screen, we see the Ferrari F150 Formula One car. The Italian company found itself in a trade mark dispute over the product name with Ford (the F-150 pick-up truck) – one month before the start of the Formula One season. This sparks the interest of the young listeners. “I include storytelling to illustrate certain aspects. Real cases involving well-known companies work very well,” explains Matthias Käch. In this particular case, Ferrari clearly did not verify if the brand name already existed. Such prominent examples are a good starting point from which to discuss the mistakes made by previous YES teams.

 

The workshop participants learn that it’s not just about protecting the use of a product name; what's more important is ensuring that it does not come into conflict with an existing trade mark. This is also relevant if you do not protect your offering as a trade mark. This is important even if you are not going to trade mark your product or service.

  

Copyright – be careful on photo platforms

When it comes to copyright, Matthias Käch is pleased to see that most young people are aware that the internet is not just a photo free-for-all. YES participants mostly search for photos on platforms that are ‘royalty-free’. However, it is important to read the licence, which defines the conditions for using the image.

  

Contracts between team members

The workshop also aims to increase the young entrepreneurs’ awareness of rights of use. In the past, this topic caused some problems for teams that continued their businesses after the YES programme. Matthias Käch points out that, “If I create a copyright-protected work, it belongs to me.  As the author, only I have the right to use it. As a company, however, I do not want an individual employee to determine the use of the work.” He recommends drawing up a contract between the author and a team member, in which the rights to use the image are transferred to the company.

 

Teachers also take part in the IPI workshops and their attendance is particularly important. While the students move on, the teachers stay in school. Thanks to the experience they have gained, from the start, they can help future YES participants to avoid making the same mistakes when it comes to intellectual property.

  
  

In the Company Programme run by Young Enterprise Switzerland (YES), young people between the ages of 16 and 20 manage a mini-company for one year under real-life conditions – from founding the company to marketing a product. The IPI is one of the national partners and will present the IP Management Award at the final at the end of May 2020. Three teams from the programme that prove they have the best grasp of IP will be invited to write a report. This will be the basis for deciding who wins the prize.

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