Researchers learn to use their assets

2019-10-10

Christin Wendel at PRV is looking forward to continued partnership with UU Innovation surrounding IP education initiatives for the University’s researchers. Photo: Maya Estelle.

The fifth round of a PhD course on intellectual property in collaboration with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office (Patent & Registreringsverket, PRV) is in progress at Uppsala University. “Armed with a basic understanding of intellectual property, researchers can avoid reinventing the wheel and become better equipped to add value to their research,” says Christin Wendel at PRV.

Intellectual property involves ownership of a knowledge asset. And where are knowledge assets found, if not in academia? The aim of PRV’s involvement is to raise awareness among researchers that the assets they are building are potentially very valuable.

“We want to help researchers take conscious decisions on the direction of their research and to think strategically about the assets they are creating.” This is why they need a basic grasp of how to manage knowledge assets using copyright, patents, design protection and trademark protection,” says Wendel, who is the strategic coordinator for PRV’s activities aimed at higher education institutions.

As the intellectual property centre of Sweden, PRV’s constant task is to raise awareness of the role that intellectual property plays in innovation, jobs and economic growth in Sweden. PRV's remit was expanded in 2016 to work with knowledge-boosting initiatives towards specific target groups, including researchers and other stakeholders at Swedish academic institutions. 

PRV has offered its expertise to all of the institutions within the framework of the expanded remit. The education initiatives have mainly been designed and carried out in collaboration with university innovation offices.

“We identified Uppsala University as a partner early on and could start working with UU Innovation when the remit was new,” explains Wendel, who emphasises that the involvement of the business advisors and IP specialists at UU Innovation have been key to the success of the PhD course.

“The design of the course is based on the interplay between us. PRV’s role is to create awareness and basic understanding of the various IP tools that are out there and how they play an important role in the utilisation of knowledge assets at universities in general. UU Innovation puts the theory into a practical context and facilitates personal contacts between researchers and the advisors who can provide support in their own projects.”

Searching patent databases keeps researchers up to date on their fields

The course includes an introduction to searching for information in patent databases in a specific field of research.  Patent databases, according to Wendel, are an indispensable source of information that far too few researchers know about.

“Patent applications contain technical information that cannot always be found in scientific publications. Supplementing their analysis with patent information thus provides a more complete picture of the state of knowledge in a field of research. There are examples of researchers who have changed the direction of their research after realising that their ideas have been researched, and patents applied for, by others.”

Wendel goes on to explain that there are free search tools available online that can provide an overall view of the situation.

But how easy is it actually to dig for patent information?

“If a researcher needs higher quality in the search or help interpreting the information, they may need to buy that service. But researchers at Uppsala University are sitting on a goldmine, as UU Innovation can both perform the search and help them understand the results. Preparing an IP strategy with the help of UU Innovation is truly a boon for researchers and deserves more attention,” says Christin Wendel.

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