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How UKIPO’s education drive will benefit generations to come

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To mark World IP Day, UKIPO CEO Tim Moss outlines how the IP Education Framework aims to inspire the innovators of the future

This year’s World IP Day – today, April 26 – focuses on intellectual property and youth and has the theme of ‘innovating for a better future’, recognising how young people around the world are stepping up to the challenge of innovation. Through their energy, ingenuity, curiosity and creativity, they are helping steer a course towards a better future.

Our ambition is for the UK to be the most innovative and creative country in the world – and the government’s Innovation Strategy has IP at its core. To realise and sustain this ambition into the future, we need to lay the right foundations now.

Through our new IP Education Framework, the UKIPO is taking a new approach to helping lay these foundations. On World IP Day and in keeping with this year’s theme, I’d like to explain how empowering young people with IP knowledge – and supporting educators with the practical tools and resources to help them do so – bodes well for us all. The environment in which young people are growing up, interacting with the world, undertaking research, and developing careers is increasingly complicated and nuanced. 

IP is an integral part of this environment. Anyone can create, own, and protect IP. As a society, we need to promote how IP is recognised, understood, and respected. This goal may sound ambitious, but through a long-term approach, I think we can succeed.Looking towards our young people is the logical starting point. As the innovators, creators, and entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow, it is essential they have an understanding of IP. The potential for IP to open doors – and magnify the impact of research and innovation on society – is huge. 

But if not properly understood, or badly managed, we know that IP can also be a barrier. For example, uncertainty about IP ownership can be an obstacle to effective technology transfer into the marketplace and can discourage collaborative research. Introducing the concepts of IP into the classroom from an early age and building upon that language and knowledge means that the concepts will, over time, become second nature.

IP education

Our new IP Education Framework, developed with help from teachers, industry and professional bodies, is part of the UKIPO’s new long-term strategic approach to educating young people about IP. Helping ensure educators can access the appropriate resources is a key pillar of this approach. 

To have the greatest impact, understanding of IP needs to be developed over time. By providing teachers and educators with a set of tools that are age-appropriate, the framework helps them integrate IP concepts when they are teaching about creativity, innovation and invention across a range of subjects. In fact, many educators may not realise that they already teach ‘IP’-related content, such as copyright.I want teachers to understand and value the benefits of teaching about IP. They are intelligent problem solvers and innovators. If they understand IP, they can see how it can be included in the classroom. By giving them the tools, resources, and confidence to do so, they can help young people to learn about IP in contexts relevant to them and show them how to identify, protect, use, and respect IP.While IP is relevant to many different subjects, it is of course not always part of curricula. We recognise that this presents challenges.We know that schools, colleges and universities are busy places with competing priorities and different frameworks, curricula and approaches. Our flexible, free resources will support teaching objectives and different approaches in the classroom. Our material must be accessible, understandable, and contextual, and we will work with teachers and educators to continuously develop and improve it.While these challenges are considerable, I am sure you will agree the end goal is worthwhile and has tangible benefits for all involved. The learning materials and resources the framework provides will equip us, and educators, to address these challenges and reach that goal in a practical and engaging way.

Inspiring innovators

Readers of Managing IP may be saddened to learn that our aim is not to create a new generation of world-leading IP lawyers. It’s not even about getting pupils talking about a new and exciting subject called ‘IP’ that they learnt in school today. But we do want to help the next generation of musicians, writers, artists, innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs to have a basic understanding of how to protect and make the most of their work.

IP training and understanding supports curriculum learning objectives and wider student development. Beyond careers and employment, it supports creativity, critical thinking and innovation, and shows how ideas translate into social and economic benefit.

Knowing they will be recognised and remunerated for their work will encourage more young people to innovate and create. Learning about IP will help equip young people for employment and responsible digital citizenship.

If we are to achieve our long-term goal of making IP crime and infringement socially unacceptable to all, I want to ensure that all have a basic understanding of IP – because respect flows from understanding.I am sure this audience will agree that IP knowledge is a core asset in life. I want this to be widely understood; this refreshed approach – underpinned by the tools and resources in our new framework – is the starting point.

Such understanding will add real value to the skills toolset young people will need to thrive while facing the challenges of the future. This in turn will help create a better future for us all. Happy World Intellectual Property Day to you all.

Tim Moss is CEO at the UKIPO.

 

 


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