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Over the last few months, we’ve been interviewing expert faculty from Glion Master’s programs to find out more about industry experience they bring to the classroom. This time around we speak to Jean-Pierre Bernard, who teaches intellectual property on the MSc in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

What’s copyright got to do with hospitality? We hear you ask, a lot, especially as the industry heads further into the digital realm. Jean-Pierre shares his career, insight and warnings for the future in this fascinating interview.

What is your professional background and how did you join MSc in Hospitality, Entrepreneurship and Innovation?

Originally, I was an engineer in telecommunications, for many years I worked in the development of electronic products for the army, but then I switched to the development of different mobile phones.

I did many different things in this field throughout my career, from being a designer, up to managing different productions where I was the link between the European clients and the production sites in Asia.

In 2004, I was working in Austria, and my company was bought by a company in Bangalore. I worked there for a while, but then I left and started my career as an independent consultant.

I am knowledgeable and experienced in two main fields: high tech (I help companies understand and develop technologically) and intellectual properties (for example, clients ask me to compare their patents to the patents of their competitors).

This certainly does not sound like something that could be very interesting to the students, but it is very important for them to learn about it. Technology is everywhere. If they don’t know how to negotiate conditions and rights with technology-providers (even if it is Booking.com or AirBnb), they can easily get in trouble.

What brought you to Glion and the MSc in Hospitality Entrepreneurship and Innovation?

As this program is about innovation and entrepreneurship, technology plays a big part in it, so Glion needed someone who could transmit the knowledge directly from the field.

Also, I’ve worked with Marie-France Derderian (Director of the Master’s) since 2009 on subjects like intellectual property, supply chain and technology sales, so she knew that she could contact me for this role.

“When you let your guests take pictures and put them on TripAdvisor, do these pictures belong to TripAdvisor or you?”

Students are accessing intellectual property on their devices every day, but do they know how they can use it?

When we copy something from the Internet, we have no idea if these texts or images are protected or not. When we are professionals and we copy something and put it on our own website, what happens then? Could there be legal or financial risks for the company? This is all very important to know.

When you let your guests take pictures of the dishes in the restaurant and put them on TripAdvisor, do these pictures belong to TripAdvisor or the restaurant? What is the contract that they have? It is so much more complex than we think.

Then, there is a geographical consideration to add. Are the legal implications in digital the same in Switzerland as they are in US? Does it matter where the website is located in order to determine the copyright? We need to raise their awareness about all these issues.

“They need to know how to protect their business from the outset”

The legal aspect of technology is not very familiar to students and I have adapted the course and give them real-life practical examples in order to help them learn and apply this knowledge in their own business one day.

We instil an entrepreneurial spirit here at Glion and students will leave wanting to start their own venture. They need to know how to protect their businesses from rivals and hackers right from the outset. First of all, they need to think of their trademark. Then, they need to know how to negotiate their contracts with different suppliers: they shouldn’t just sign anything.

To achieve this, they have two options. They can pay a legal practitioner to help them, or consult people who are experienced in this business and have knowledge from the field. This is what I do for many companies.

“We already cannot control anything”

It is becoming very complicated to control content online, do you think that we will reach a point where nothing will be under copyright anymore?

We already cannot control everything. I gave an example to students: 10 years ago, I looked at my LinkedIn profile and noticed that suddenly there was 50% of wrong information on it. I called LinkedIn as I knew that there is a law in France that says that we can force an online supplier to delete our personal data at any time, so I wanted to ask them to delete my profile altogether.

They told me that they would really like to respect the French law, but that they are technically unable to permanently delete my information from their files. Any information that has been added to the Internet stays forever there.

So, it is technically impossible to apply the law. And if there is no law that can be applied: what do we do? Well, we can still protect ourselves with certain contracts with suppliers, also, we should constantly review what is happening online and manage the e-reputation of our brand.

We thank Jean-Pierre for taking the time to share his insight! Stick around and read more interviews with faculty:

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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