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We wouldn’t be F-Secure without the talented and passionate researchers in our labs. And today, we’d like you to meet one whose inquisitive nature has driven him to become an inventor – and a prolific one at that.
In his 14-year career with F-Secure, Jarno Niemelä has racked up an impressive 20 patents to his name and has filed 100 patent applications in total. His achievements recently won the title of ‘Salaried Inventor of 2014’ from a group of Finnish inventors’ organisations. I sat down to chat with Jarno about where he gets his ideas and what advice he has for others.
On what areas do your inventions focus?
I mostly focus on methods to help detect malware on a system, or methods of preventing malware from entering the system in the first place.
How do your ideas come about?
Inventions mostly happen in the evening when I’m not at work, and not even trying to think about it. I’ll be working on some problem at work, and usually, a day or two later, when I’m doing something totally unrelated on my own time, it hits me. I understand the problem and come up with a solution. The gym is a really good place for inventions.
What motivates you to keep on inventing new solutions?
Inventions just happen, pretty much. Whenever I’m able to define a problem, I’m usually always able to come up with a solution. I am lucky to be researching in areas with problems that others have not yet solved. I’ll be honest. I don’t really like patents that much, personally. The fact is, though, that companies without patents would pretty much be at the mercy of the competitors. So in my view, patents are basically a company’s self defense. Patents keep things in balance.
Were you curious about things growing up?
I’ve always been kind of inventive. You cannot learn to become an inventor. It’s either something that’s in your nature or it’s not. And then, you need to hone the talent and learn how to work within the patent framework. Another thing that is very important is a good basic education and knowledge about the field. I owe a lot to Metropolia University of Applied Sciences where I studied for my engineering degree.
Do you have any advice for people who have this inventive nature and are interested in filing patents?
It all begins with defining and understanding the problem. Without a thorough understanding of the problem, you can’t come up with a solution. Also, when it comes to patents, it’s important to know what has previously been done in your area, and to be clear exactly how your invention is different from those. Otherwise, your patent can be easily rejected by the patent examiner. And finally, patents are a long process, so you need to be patient. It can take three to five years to get a patent approved. So this process is not for hasty people.
What is that rock you’re holding?
It’s my trophy, a piece of Finnish bedrock! Inventors are the bedrock of new products.
Do you have any particular goals for your inventions?
Before I retire, I would like to have at least 50 patents to my name.
Well, he’s off to a great start. Congratulations, Jarno!