“Intellectual property is simply everywhere”

After travelling around South America, Cedric Cucinelli took up a legal internship at the IPI. In the course of his various tasks, he soon realised how greatly intellectual property (IP) pervades our daily lives. He had to explain to his friends that the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) doesn’t have anything to do with religious studies.

Cedric Cucinelli with lawyer Sibylle Wenger Berger, who mentored him during his internship. Copyright: IPI

A citizen of Basel, Cedric has a Bachelor and Master in Law (2021). His time at the IPI is his third internship and a very deliberate choice. “I’ve always been interested in technology and life sciences, and intellectual property is crucial in these areas,” says Cedric. He caught the IP bug at a lecture on the subject in Geneva.


From trade marks to ‘Swissness’

His interest in IP is even greater now following his six-month internship at the IPI. “I was familiar with the theory, but I was able to experience at first hand at the IPI how people work in this area. Due to the particular role of the institution, the topics I covered in my daily work were very varied,” says Cedric Cucinelli. Above all, he dealt with trade marks and patents, as well as with Swissness and copyright issues.


He naturally told his friends where he was working. “Half of them thought my work had something to do with religious studies, presumably because of the institute’s name,” he laughs [German uses the same word for ‘spiritual’ and ‘intellectual’]. He believes that too few people know anything about intellectual property. The concept of goods needing protection isn’t generally understood, he explains.


Answering questions from the general public

Cedric found answering questions from the general public a particularly interesting part of his internship. “Their questions are often multi-pronged. Trying to keep replies as simple as possible and avoiding legal jargon was challenging. I learnt a lot doing that,” says Cedric. There were frequent queries about the use of the Swiss cross and about Swissness criteria. People also asked questions relating to trade marks and copyright law.

The internship allowed him to gain a different perspective on intellectual property. “I wasn’t at all aware of the economic aspect of intellectual property before,” says Cedric. He also enthuses about the IPI’s interdisciplinary and international work. “Being able to see so many areas in my brief period here was ideal.” His visits to the WIPO and the WTO greatly impressed him. “And I worked with non-lawyers, as well as lawyers, during my time at the IPI, which made for a pleasant change,” he says.


A different outlook on daily life

During his six months here, the 29-year-old developed a different outlook on daily life. “With respect to trade marks in particular, I see lots of things in my daily life that I hadn’t noticed before. And of course I always pay attention to IP-related news. IP is simply everywhere.”


Cedric appreciated the working conditions as well as the content of his internship. “As an intern, I was treated in exactly the same way as the other employees,” says Cedric. He explains that the IPI does a lot for its employees, including organising various staff events.


A keen football fan, Cedric supports FC Basel. He was once an active player himself, but now trains a team in the fourth league. “After my active career, I had a lengthy break. But now I enjoy the role of coach all the more. I like achieving things together with a team,” he explains. His second passion is travelling. He loves to be on the move: he’s travelled around Asia and South America and likes to visit other European countries at the weekends. In January, he spent four weeks in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. “It always happens fairly spontaneously. I love discovering the world,” he explains.

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