IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future

IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future

This year’s theme, “IP and Youth: Innovating for a Better Future”, emphasises how young innovators are driving positive changes in shaping their future. World Intellectual Property Day endeavours to raise awareness of how IP rights such as patents, copyright, trademarks, and designs make a positive impact to daily life. From blockbuster birthday cake sagas – like Marks and Spencer’s legal proceedings against Aldi to keep Cuthbert the Caterpillar off the shelves – to the multitude of patent applications filed in respect of Samsung’s pioneering folding-glass phone technology, intellectual property rights and their affects are everywhere we look.

Particularly relevant to this year’s theme is the seismic increase in digital consumption over the last few years, with the number of platforms more than keeping up with demand, IP in this sector is expanding dramatically. Whether accessing gaming, music, films, or live sport coverage, the younger demographic’s digital footfall and associated social media influence strongly impacts digital spending. This is merely one example of how IP’s contribution to people’s day-to-day lives is increasing, and as the disproportionate creators of digital content, young people are the protagonists in this story, whether they know the script or not.

As anyone in the IP profession who has attended a careers fair will be only too aware, IP and youth aren’t the most synonymous of topics. To overcome this apparent misapprehension, it is vital to understand that IP rights are not obstacles to ideas and entrepreneurship, but rather they represent an essential tool enabling and rewarding innovation and creativity. For example, Research & Development is notoriously expensive and securing the required investment can often be contingent on an inventor having a pending patent application, as if granted, this will provide the right-holder a temporary monopoly to commercially exploit the technology, and so re-pay any investment. Developing young people’s attitudes towards IP to address similar IP misunderstandings is just one of the many reasons that this year’s theme is so important.

There are a number of programs that focus on turning young ideas into innovation. For example, following Innovate UK - in partnership with The Prince’s Trust - announcing a “Young Innovators” Programme in 2020, there have been over 150 recipients. These young inventors, from a diverse range of sectors (from agri-food to transport) have benefitted from the award’s mentoring and financial support. There are other awards that aim to help guide and support the next generation of young innovators. At the European Inventor Award ceremony in June 2022, the ‘Young Inventors prize’ will acknowledge and reward the work of innovators, aged 30 and under, in the field of sustainability. The finalists are due to be announced in May, and with the European Patent Office awarding the winner a €20,000 cash prize, we are excited to see which budding-young inventors will be in the mix.

If the world’s young creators and entrepreneurs are going to harness their potential and shape the future; IP education is a must. It is not necessary for young innovators to familiarise themselves with every nuance of patent or trademark law, however a basic understanding of the IP rights available – along with a general checklist of dos and don’ts – really could make the difference in getting an idea off the ground. One thing worth bearing in mind is that there are no do-overs in obtaining IP rights, and some mistakes early in an idea’s development (such as a public disclosure of a technology) can have disastrous consequences later down the line. It is therefore important for innovators to seek advice from IP specialists at an early stage of the innovation process or risk not being able to obtain enforceable IP rights for their ideas and creations.

In summary, the theme for this year’s World Intellectual Property Day highlights the importance of IP rights in protecting youth-led innovation, which supports the development of successful enterprises. To avoid potential missteps, it is vital for young inventors to understand the basic principles of IP rights and seek support from IP specialists throughout their journey. Our attorneys at Secerna have a wealth of experience in helping start-ups and entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property. If you would like to discuss considerations including timings and potential costs of IP filings, then please do not hesitate to contact us at docketing@secerna.co.uk.

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