Research Assistant of Prof. Kraus
Intellectual Property and Innovation Law

Born in 1989

Lives in Lausanne


Charlotte Boulay was born in 1989 in Annecy to Franco-German parents. After graduating in 2012 with a Bachelor’s & Master’s double degree in French and Swiss law (Fribourg/Paris II), then obtaining a second Master’s in Sports Law from the University of Aix-Marseille in 2013, she spent her final internship working for the UEFA EURO 2016 organising committee in Paris. In December 2013, she joined the office of the chair of innovation law at the University of Neuchâtel under Daniel Kraus. As a doctoral assistant, she prepares lectures and organises numerous seminars and conferences, including the Annual Start-up, SME and Innovation Day. (page in French). It is through her work as an assistant that Charlotte has discovered her passion for innovation law: she has a particular interest in the role intellectual property plays in innovation, and analyses the legal aspects of emerging new technologies such as blockchain.    
Alongside her work with the chair of innovation law, Charlotte is preparing a thesis on the protection of trade secrets in professional sport, under the supervision of Professors Daniel Kraus and Antonio Rigozzi. One area she is looking at is the legal consequences of these new technologies on professional sport, with an emphasis on the importance of strengthening the protection of confidential information.

What is the link between your thesis and innovation ?

My doctoral work focuses on protecting trade secrets in professional sport. This work is closely tied to innovation: as with intellectual property rights (copyright, patent, trademark, design), trade secrets are another way of protecting intangible property while also encouraging those involved to innovate. Confidential information, either technological or commercial, and the world of sport go hand in hand. Particularly in disciplines where technology plays a decisive role, such as in motor sport or sailing. And yet, as new technologies emerge and those involved in sport become increasingly mobile, information circulates at speed and often without any control. Confidential information can therefore be disclosed against the wishes of those who own this information. Over the past ten years, there have been several instances of trade secret violations, notably in Formula One and the America’s Cup. My thesis seeks to clarify the legal concept of a trade secret and its protection regime. The aim – ultimately – is to make the protection of trade secrets more effective in professional sport.

How important is intellectual property for an innovation hub such as Microcity ?

Intellectual property is essential for innovation hubs, because it helps to protect their research output. For example, an invention can be patented, which means that whoever owns the patent has the exclusive right to use it for a maximum of 20 years.
Intellectual property also stimulates innovation by providing effective tools such as licence contracts, which regulate the rights and obligations of the related parties, e.g. in research projects. It does not curb open innovation because it actually encourages – and serves as a secure legal basis for – the sharing of technology between innovators, enabling them to collaborate in an atmosphere of trust. Intellectual property is therefore the backbone of any strategic decision taken by an innovation hub.

What is your role in the Master's in Innovation ?

I help Daniel Kraus to plan teaching content for the “Innovation Law” course that he offers on the Master’s in Innovation. I am also in charge of setting up his themed seminars, which are open to students taking this Master’s. These three-week long biannual seminars deepen students’ knowledge of a given innovation topic, with support from academic experts and practical experience.

Written by Victoria Barras

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