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February 1, 2021

Comment: Bringing Intellectual Property closer to classrooms: Time to boost Intellectual Property awareness

Author: Sneha Tandon

In India, of late, much emphasis is being given by the Government of India (GoI) to Intellectual Property (IP) awareness particularly amongst higher educational  institutions such as technology institutes. The reason for such emphasis is heightened now more than ever before considering the recent pandemic and the need for Indian businesses and institutions to innovate, invest in research, and develop means of production (of goods and services) indigenously. This in turn results in IP generation. Towards promotion of IP awareness, GoI, through the Ministry of Education, has time and again stepped in and led various initiatives, the latest of which  is ‘KAPILA’ Kalam Program for Intellectual Property Literacy and Awareness launched in October 2020. 

One could argue that IP literacy and awareness at higher educational institutions like undergraduate and graduate level is perhaps more useful than at elementary or high-school level, but the changing times of an internet and tech savvy generation nudge us to give more thought to promoting IP awareness and education in schools as well. Accordingly, the author is of the view that it is imperative that IP awareness programs be carried out at even school level  such that the larger mission of protecting one’s own work and respecting the work of others is picked up at an early impressionable age. In trying to achieve this, GoI may look at unique ways adopted by various other countries including United States, Switzerland, Singapore, Denmark etc. to inculcate IP awareness as part of school curriculum. The National Intellectual Property Offices in each of these countries have taken up various initiatives focused at raising IP awareness right from the primary school level. Sensitizing primary school students by creative ways is a doable task. One way could be by integrating knowledge of IP within different subjects and curriculum throughout all educational levels. Others may include dissemination of knowledge on copyrights, brands,  designs etc., through skits, plays, musicals, art, craft, writing contests and workshops.

Currently, it can be seen that there are some initiatives that the GoI is taking towards educating school children, but most of the government initiatives are patent oriented and promote sensitizing relevant groups with respect to their rights and knowledge in the sphere of patents. While the direct correlation between patents and innovation cannot be overruled, it is important that awareness and education of other IPs such as Brands (Trademarks), Copyrights, Designs, etc.  be also promoted in adequate measure. 

The need to educate and sensitize children early on such that they are alive to counterfeit (of toys, pharmaceuticals, etc.) or piracy (of games/movies, etc.) as well as are encouraged to innovate and invent should be the driver of policies in new age India.  

[1] https://government.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/education/national-ip-literacy-initiative-will-be-taken-up-soon-education-ministrys-cio/77648014

Disclaimer: Views, opinions, interpretations are solely those of the author, not of the firm (ALG India Law Offices LLP) nor reflective thereof. Author submissions are not checked for plagiarism or any other aspect before being posted.

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