I recently heard the story of a young boy who was trying to get to his Mum who was working the other side of a stack of boxes. He couldn’t see a way around the boxes but, instead of giving up, opted to use his toys to create a ladder. He saw a problem and set about inventing and creating the means to solve it.
He is not the only child to be innovative. In 1963 a U.S. patent was granted for a ‘Toy Truck’ to a six-year-old by the name of Robert Patch. Robert invented a way of creating the toy out of household objects, e.g., a shoe box and a few bottle caps. An affordable and imaginative solution to a lack of manufactured toys.
In the UK in 2008, Samuel Houghton, aged five, was granted a patent for a “Sweeping Device with Two Heads”. Two years earlier, aged three, he had watched his dad use two different brushes to sweep up garden rubbish. Samuel strapped the two brooms together with a band to create a single headed broom thus solving the problem of having to use two individual implements.
World Intellectual Property Day, which is held every year on 26th April, is celebrating the inventiveness of youth with the theme “IP and Youth: Innovating for the Future”. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) acknowledges that “across the globe, young people are stepping up to innovation challenges, using their energy and ingenuity, curiosity and creativity to steer a course towards a better future.”
Young people often have a new and novel way of looking at the world and the imagination and incentive to make changes, which is something the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) has tried to harness in the campaign for schools. Based on the cartoon characters Wallace and Gromit, students aged 5-11 are encouraged to come up with a “cracking good idea”. In 2021 winning entries including a device to help find lost items at home or in the garden, a suitcase with a folding seat for use when queueing at an airport, and a bag with an internal light which lights up when the bag is opened.
Tim Moss, the UKIPO’S Chief Executive says “To help build on the UK’s proud history of innovation and creativity, it’s essential that we reach out to future creators at an early age and impress upon them the importance of protecting their ideas and work.”
So, how do you protect those “ideas and works”? By securing any intellectual property rights therein.
Intellectual Property is an umbrella term and is the collective name of a number of differing rights which may be used to protect different aspects of a product. For example, obtaining a patent could protect the way a product works, whereas a design right would protect the way a product looks. A trade mark refers to those signs which identify the brand which can be protected by registration and copyright, which automatically comes into existence upon the creation of an artistic and literary work, would protect images and advertising material used in connection with the product.
Intellectual Property rights can help transform ideas into reality and make a positive impact on the world. For example, a patent can provide a monopoly on the invention for up to twenty years. In return for that protection details of the invention are published allowing the knowledge to be shared and increasing the capacity for further innovation.
As the WIPO says “a creative and innovative mindset backed-up with IP rights will help you make a difference”.