Klaus vom Hofe


Patents, patents, patents... Inventor gives tips

Deutsche Telekom employee Mari Melander loves solving technical problems. And she occasionally patents these solutions. “It’s not that complicated,” she says.

Mari Melander: „Even ideas that may appear small can be relevant.”

Mari Melander: „Even ideas that may appear small can be relevant.”

Mari Melander's eyes light up when she talks about her job. She works for Deutsche Telekom’s IoT Programme and her current main project is to provide Voice over LTE (VoLTE) functionality for the automotive customers. The use case is that vehicles with installed Deutsche Telekom SIM cards are provided with emergency call and concierge call services, the latter the driver can use, for instance, to book a hotel or concert tickets in the city they are driving to.

Sounds easy. However, the cars are distributed worldwide, so the above services must be provided in roaming situations. Configuration, coordination, and testing are needed to ensure VoLTE roaming for vehicles in the networks of our roaming partners. All this often requires months of preparation.

The Finn frequently encounters technical problems that must be eliminated during her daily work. As she says: This is my job. She works on solutions alone or, preferably, as part of a team. And, if she believes a solution or a part of it is truly new, a patent application might be made. “It’s not rocket science,” she says and emphasizes how simple the procedure is at Deutsche Telekom. “I briefly describe the idea, draft sketches, and send everything to the patent team.” If an application is made, a patent attorney returns their legally-prepared document. The inventor then checks, whether everything has been understood correctly. Finally, the official patent application is submitted and the waiting game begins: waiting to hear from the patent office ...

Deutsche Telekom holds over 8,000 patents

But the wait is worth it when good news comes from the patent office: “Recently, one of our patents was granted in Japan and they sent me an official certification in Japanese.” In the meantime, Mari Melander has made seven patents for Deutsche Telekom – some alone and some together with colleagues. In doing so, she has become another contributor to over 8,000 patents that Deutsche Telekom holds. Patents are issued in all fields of technology. They can apply to networks, products, and processes and protect the innovative strength of Deutsche Telekom and its employees.

From Nokia to Deutsche Telekom

Mari Melander enjoys tackling tasks and solving problems. She has always loved mathematics, the subject in which she majored at the University of Turku in Finland. However, as she explains, she never wanted to pursue a career in research and teaching. So she decided to minor in computer science. This soon led her to the telecommunications industry and, eventually, to Nokia. From that point onwards – as would also be the case later on after moving to Deutsche Telekom – her specialist field was standardization, i.e., the complex international coordination and specifications needed for services and devices to work in all operator’s networks. As she is fully aware: “That’s not a given.” To her, it is very important that “everyone ultimately finds the best path together.”
These are the tips Mari Melander gives to other Deutsche Telekom colleagues who enjoy solving problems and want to patent their solutions:

  • Be creative and alert, recognize technical problems.
  • Forget your inhibitions and simply give it a try: Even ideas that may appear small can be relevant.
  • Get others involved: Teams often achieve better solutions.
  • And be daring! The patent application path is easy at Deutsche Telekom.

The inventor has enjoyed positive experiences, especially in terms of the final point: “The idea alone is enough – the specialist colleagues are there to help with everything else.”