“I learned a lot at the IPI”

The law graduate Janice Kowalski wrote her Master’s dissertation about the patenting of a surgical robot steered by AI. So it made sense for her to take up an internship at the IPI. “Intellectual property law has always fascinated me,” she says. She found her six months here enriching. For her final presentation at the IPI, she took a close look at the topic of trade secrets.

Janice Kowalski und Sibylle Wenger (Juristin im IGE) haben während des Praktikums zusammengearbeitet. Im Hintergrund eine historische Tafel des IGE. Copyright: IGE

Intellectual property law intrigues Janice. “I love the fact that the subject is so dynamic and close to the market,” she says. During her studies at the University of St. Gallen, she wrote her Bachelor’s dissertation on trade mark law. Her recently completed Master’s dissertation analyses the patenting of a surgical robot steered by AI that can perform operations on animals semi-autonomously. Asked why she chose this subject, she explains, “Patent law particularly fascinates me because of its complexity and the interplay between science and law.”


A fully fledged team member from the start

So it was an obvious step for her to take up a six-month internship at the IPI. She says that you see practice from a different perspective here. “I felt that I was greatly valued here from the very first day. Even as an intern, you’re a fully fledged team member.” She describes the work climate at the IPI as very pleasant, with staff being very considerate of each other.


“My tasks were very varied, and I learned a lot, especially as I received work from a number of different people. Among other things, I got an insight into the world of patents, copyright, trade mark protection and the fight against product piracy.” One very special experience was answering questions from the general public. Janice had the chance to respond directly to individual queries about intellectual property law. There was also a day trip to WIPO in Geneva, where she took part in a conference. She found it ‘very enriching’.


The world of trade secrets

During her internship, Janice was given a task relating to trade secrets. The topic interested her immediately, so she decided to make it the subject of her end-of-internship presentation.


Research proved somewhat tricky, as there is no special legislation on trade secrets. Instead, there are numerous provisions in various different laws. Prime examples of trade secrets include the recipe for Coca Cola and Google’s search algorithm. “Another unique aspect of trade secrets is that a secret could end up being made public by reverse engineering and could even be patented by a competitor if all the necessary conditions are met,” says Janice.


Back one day?

The final presentation and lunch always mark the end of an internship. Janice is leaving the IPI with mixed feelings. “I can definitely envisage working at the IPI again,” says the hard-working intern. But the next item on the agenda for now is a holiday. After that, she’ll go on to do more internships, starting in December. First in a law firm and then in court. Her goal is the bar examination.

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