Ana Martínez Imaz
Everyone knows that innovation is fundamental in any organization and all the more so in a technology company. In fact, any ICT company is slated to disappear if it does not innovate, if it does not create new applications, new knowledge that improves its products and services. At Telefónica I+D, this idea is a maxim and has encouraged a patent culture among employees on several fronts, turning the multinational into a world leader in the digital industry.
One of these fronts was the creation of the Patent Club in February 2012, a revolutionary idea by Telefónica I+D that was seeking to foster this culture of continuous innovation in addition to promoting creativity, excellence, networking and protecting intellectual property. To take part in the initiative it sufficed to have been involved in more than 20% of a patent filed by Telefónica.
And the idea worked: one month following its creation, the Patent Club had over 120 active members and had already awarded 132 cash prizes associated with 95 patents registered in 2011 and 20 granted. That very same year, the idea spread to inventors at other Telefónica organizations in the United Kingdom, Silicon Valley and Brazil, with great success. Currently more than 250 people are involved in the initiative. Telefónica is already the company that requested the most international patents in Spain last year, according to the latest report published by WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) the leading international agency in the intellectual property sector (patents, copyright, etc.), and whose purpose is to handle international patent requests.
The Patent Club also institutionalized the ‘Patent Club’ Awards, which are awarded annually to inventors who have excelled with their patents, either due to their originality and excellence or to the number of patent filings.
This year, various patents have been recognized involving the development of financial services, health care services, M2M (Machine to Machine) communications, a solution for combining the power of social networks and voice calls, and the development of technology for mobile networks (such as LTE).
An innovative idea that is protected through patents is Thinking Things. It involves some modules that are similar to Lego toys that can communicate with each other without having to configure anything through an Internet connection. The pieces are connected to a central system and depending on the sensors that they have – for temperature, humidity, noise, etc. – they can turn the light on or off or turn on the air conditioning or central heating whenever a house reaches a certain temperature.
All this information can be viewed in real time through a web interface or via a smartphone and tablet application that provides access to the information of the modules. You can add features to the devices such as sending SMS and e-mails, or external data, all of which is compatible with the services that Telefónica offers. Our imagination is the only limitation; the rest is up to Telefónica I+D
Another product developed by Telefónica I+D and protected by the Patent Club is the TU Go application. It involves an invention that allows us to have the same telephone number on up to five devices: mobiles, tablets, e-books, computers, etc. With TU Go, therefore, we will be able to make and receive calls from any one of these platforms, which ensures that our number is always available.
Furthermore, we will be able to have access to the call and message register so that we will never lose valuable information, using mobile coverage as well as WiFi connection. It seems that the trite excuse that “the battery ran out on my mobile” or “I was without coverage” will no longer be considered a valid pretext.
You can read the original article in Spanish here.