Robert Pocklington
IP Expert – Latin America IP SME Helpdesk

The Web Summit 2019 is an annual technology conference held in Lisbon, Portugal. The main topics of this event are Internet technologies, emerging technologies and venture capitalism. It is considered the largest technology event in the world, with more than 1,200 speakers and 70,000 participants, who get lost every year in its four pavilions and the centre stage.

This amazing event takes place in November every year since 2009. It brings together entrepreneurs, start-ups, companies and Business Support Organisations (BSO) from all the different sectors of the high-technology global industry. This year, the event had the pleasure of having Tony Blair, Katherine Maher, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Jaden Smith, Guo Ping –among others– as speakers.

The Guardian funnily named it as the “Glastonbury for geeks”. Since the Helpdesk had the wonderful chance to take part in the European Commission’s stand at this event, one of those geeks this year happened to be me, the Latin America IP Helpdesk representative.

Why does the Latin America Helpdesk participate at this event?

While some Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have some knowledge of patent, trade mark, copyright protection, or they have already assigned an IP expert to help them with their IP protection, many people come to us at these events we participate in with several questions.

Picture yourself as a University graduate who has a business idea, and you want to make it come true and succeed. Since you do not have enough knowledge of business, your aim at this event is to find future partnerships with other participants, show your business ideas at your own stand to get some attention and financing, or maybe have a look at the trends in your own field of technology (what are my competitors developing?). At this point, you ask yourself: “what would happen if a partner steals my ideas?” Or “what would happen if my cool name and logo is copied?” This is when the IP Latin America Helpdesk comes to the rescue.

It was by the European Commission’s stand in pavilion 3 where we received questions coming from the different SMEs, BSOs, start-ups and future entrepreneurs in regard to Intellectual Property and the Latin American region.

Which were the most common questions received from EU SMEs?

Many of the start-ups we have met at this event are just starting. That is why they are usually just looking for information, such as “Is it free?”, “Can I send my questions in Portuguese?”, “Can I ask you questions in confidentiality?”. The answer to these questions?

– We are an EU initiative, so everything we offer is for free.

– You can contact us in any of the five languages we work with: English, French, Spanish, German or Portuguese (upon experts’ availability).

– All the information you provide us will be treated as confidential.

– Moreover, we are fast. We answer in less than 3 working days.

Which other questions were asked to the Helpdesk?

Considering the nature of this event, questions from participants mainly focused on software products and services, apps, Artificial Intelligence and so forth. To them, IP protection is a must, but they sometimes have no idea of which IP rights are better for them to take into account. Copyright, patents, trade secrets, trade marks? Each case may vary a lot depending on the type of service or product, the technology sector or the company’s different targets.

We tend to stress the differences between Europe and Latin America for European SMEs. The territorial barriers, the cultural differences, the lack of harmonisation and the importance of having your IP protected before entering the market are key when establishing a new business in Latin America.

As an example, a business support organisation came to us at the Web Summit and told us about a bad experience the EU companies they work with encountered when they began their adventure in the Latin American region. They made a mission to Brazil together with the companies, but these were not well informed about the potential IP issues that could arise because of a previous lack of protection. When they travelled to Brazil to meet local partners, their ideas and trade marks were copied. The solution? They decided to abandon Brazil as target market, and focus on Chile instead, but taking into account the mistakes encountered in Rio de Janeiro.

She told us that if they had known about us before, their companies would have had a better IP strategy before entering Latin America. The first steps are key. In this regard, we highly recommend that you check out our Infographic on “10 basic IP tips to succeed in Latin America”.

Meet us in future events!

Don’t forget that the Latin America IP SME Helpdesk attends several events throughout the year. We are there to help you with all your IP-related questions. And do not forget to protect before you go!

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