Every year, hundreds of new inventions and trademarks are developed across all UPM businesses, ranging from biomedicals to paper businesses. These innovations require the support of a world-class IPR team. The abbreviation comes from intellectual property rights. The team is responsible for all UPM’s patents and trademarks and domain names.
UPM manages and uses its intellectual property rights all over the world. The company has nearly two thousand patents and patent applications, and nearly the same amount of trademarks.
“UPM’s IPR team has versatile roles. In addition to protecting inventions, the team’s responsibilities include risk management, monitoring competitors and formulating IPR related contracts in collaboration with company lawyers based on business needs. And what’s more, the IPR team is present whenever UPM is considering an investment,” says Mika Timmerbacka, Director, IPR, UPM.
“Our job is to analyse the risks. Each year there are more than a million patent filings in China alone. We help the business teams to understand the patent application jargon, and to understand the market situation and competitors’ reactions,” Mika says.
The team is also responsible for protecting UPM’s brand with trademarks. When UPM considers launching a new trademark, the IPR team investigates whether other operators in the business have anything similar and if it can be used. The team also oversees checking whether competitors are violating UPM’s trademarks. The team also offers support to budding new businesses.
International and growing
The IPR team’s work is very international and good language skills are an essential prerequisite. Most of the work is done in English, but knowledge of other languages, such as German and Chinese, is also beneficial. The patent experts usually have a Master’s degree in technology or science.
Noora Ristolainen is a Doctor of Science and an authorised patent agent. She is currently working with nee innovations, such as wood-based biochemicals and biomedical products. The job also includes travelling in UPM’s operating countries in Central Europe, the US, China and Uruguay.
“Working in the IPR team is challenging but also rewarding. The patent application process usually takes 4 to 8 years. After that, it is important to stay alert and defend the patents if competitors’ products are possibly infringing them,” Noora, Manager, IPR concludes.