World IP Day is coming up. What does it mean for you?

Every year on April 26th is World IP day, celebrating the role of all types of Intellectual Property in encouraging new and exciting innovation and creative ideas. This year’s universal theme is “Reach for Gold: IP and Sports”. There will be events around the world happening that will revolve around this theme. There will be celebrations, debates, seminars and more taking place on 26th April.

But what is all the fuss about? You would be forgiven for being slightly unenthused by a day dedicated to patents and trademarks. But IP impacts (as well as protects) almost everything we see and use.

In terms of global sports, IP rights encourage and protect innovation and creativity to support the development of the sport and its enjoyment by many across the world. IP is ever-present in the industry, for example: Sports businesses patenting new technologies and equipment to improve athletic performance or experience – Like VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in the 2018 World Cup.

Other examples aren’t so obvious. Think of the trademarks and branding that protect sponsors of massive events like the 2012 Olympic Games. Without the protection of their brand which would have been featured on merchandise, banners, our TV screens and more, Coca Cola wouldn’t have been able to financially support the Games and it may not have had the budget to be as spectacular as it was.

Not sold by sports? Here are a few ways IP is playing a role in your life that you may not have realised.

  • Without protection for their work, inventors would lose incentive to create new technologies; especially start-ups without a lot of revenue to work with. If Steve Jobs couldn’t protect his first ‘personal computer’ and 1000s of other technologies and brands, we never would have started the love affair with the iPhone.
  • Artists use IP to protect their work from theft or counterfeiting. This ensured that bands like Queen were recognized and encouraged to keep producing new music for us to enjoy. (It also ensured that Queen received compensation from Vanilla Ice after using the same bass line for ‘Ice Ice Baby’ as ‘Under Pressure’)
  • The food your eating is readily available because of IP. Farmers have used IP-protected tools for hundreds of years. The first tractor was patented in 1886 and saved farmers 655 million hours of labour each year! We may still have to be trekking to the nearest field for the lettuce in our salads if it wasn’t for wonderful IP.

There are of course many other factors that go into the success of products, businesses, systems and ways of living; But it is important to remember the significance of IP in society and how it can benefit us. IP makes innovation possible, ensures quality, entertains us and protects us. It is also not just for companies, it is available for everyone to ensure that your ideas and decisions are protected, and secure to be able to go out and  make an impact and maybe change the world.