News - February 15, 2007

Students play boss for a day in patent game

A group of PhD and MSc students sat down to tackle the case of the imaginary company Fresh Pack last Wednesday, 7 February. The Student Enterprise Centre, StOC, used the example of an innovative firm in the food packaging sector in its Patent Game, in an interactive learning-by-doing session to teach how the patent system works.

After a short introduction to the world of patents, the game got underway. The participants were split into teams and as CEOs they took up the challenge of deciding how the company could best introduce new packaging concepts, during the five phases of the innovation process: idea – concept – prototype – production preparation – introduction on the market. Peter van Dongen, of the Netherlands Patent Office, explained that the key to the game is not which ideas, but how new ideas are developed. In the case of Fresh Pack, existing patents turned out to be more important than developing new ones. The team that chose the most efficient solutions were the winners.

During drinks afterwards, the students had the opportunity to ask more questions about how the patenting system works. The dissatisfaction of a Spanish participant, Eva Castro-Prada, about innovation in the Netherlands was rewarded with an interesting opportunity: she was invited to attend a presentation that the Patent Office will give for the Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, in his role as chair of the Innovation Platform./ Sara van Otterloo

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