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Barend Bouma NLO
Blog 14 Mar 2019

#PeopleofNLO: Barend Bouma

Barend Bouma is Dutch and European Patent Attorney at NLO in Ede.

“I became politically aware when I was still quite young. I’m also someone who’s always found it hard to accept injustice. For example, knowing that people in some countries are oppressed, such as dissidents in the former East Germany. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I went on a study week to the former GDR. Standing on top of the ‘Iron Curtain’ as a 17-year-old made a big impression on me and further increased my interest in the position of ordinary citizens during the Cold War. The ideological clash between capitalism and communism and the impact this has had on the respective populations has also made me very interested in North and South Korea, whose relationship is an ongoing legacy of the Cold War, only now with key roles for China, Japan and the United States.”

When I discover something interesting, I want to know all about it. That applies to my work too. When I completed my degree, I did a PhD and then spent many years working as a researcher. My main interest was the practical applicability of my research, so I eventually got together with experienced business men to start a business, working partly as an inventor. That brought me into contact with patents, an area I found I enjoyed. So in 2013 I became a trainee with NLO.

Obviously I’m very interested in books that describe inventions and patents in the former GDR and North Korea, where ownership of intellectual property is far from straightforward. Although I’m not particularly interested in collecting them per se, I’ve amassed quite a library! I’m especially keen on documents and items of historic interest, such as a section of barbed wire from the Korean border, chunks of the Berlin Wall, the draft of an agreement between the former GDR and North-Korea, or vases from North Korea – imported into Europe through the GDR. Whenever I’m on holiday in Germany, I always check to see if there are any second-hand book sales…

When I discover something interesting, I want to know all about it
Barend Bouma - Dutch & European Patent Attorney

I do some travelling for NLO, but that’s just part of the job. More important to me than long-distance trips is having conversations, professional and private. About strategy, for example, with inventors and heads of business; and with representatives of governments and NGOs. Not just online but also during network meetings or conferences. I once got to meet the very last Dutch ambassador to East Berlin, which was fascinating!

All these interesting conversations are what I still find most compelling about working as a patent attorney. Especially since, through them, you can really help companies move forward, either by encouraging business owners to come up with ideas or by putting them in touch with the right people in your network. That way, I hope that as a patent attorney I can provide some added value.”

2018 was a special year as it’s the year NLO celebrated its 130th anniversary. Over all those years, there’s one specific element that really forms the core of our firm; our people. Professionals who put all their effort in helping clients in any way they can. However, they are far more than IP professionals. We would like to give you some insight in the real people behind NLO. We proudly introduce to you some of our colleagues. This Thursday: Barend Bouma.