Absent from the Classroom: An Understanding of IP Rights; Two Leading Educators Explain

Lack of basic intellectual property understanding among executives and creators undermines the impact of inventions, content and brands and leaves value on the table. 

This awareness disconnect is due in no small part to the absence of IP rights in the classroom. IP is rarely taught outside of law school, and even there, the context is often technical and depth of understanding dubious.

On most recent ‘Understanding IP Matters’ podcast – IP in the Classroom — What Entrepreneurs and Students Need to Learn Today, two leading IP educators, James Conley, an inventor and professor at Kellogg School of Management, and Ruth Soetendorp, a veteran professor from the UK who is about to publish a new book about teaching IP, have a great deal to say about preparing students for the future.

Few undergraduate students learn about IP as part of their required or elective coursework. When IP is taught, it is typically approached from a legal as opposed to business or entrepreneurial perspective.

The Evolution of IP Education

To learn about the current state of IP education, Bruce Berman interviewed innovative educators Conley and Soetendorp, for Season 2, Episode 9 of his CIPU podcast, “Understanding IP Matters.” They explore how IP education has evolved, who is doing it, and the tension between the business and the legal side of teaching IP.

Excerpts from the podcast:

There’s this hostility to IP rights on the part of creators and even the public. What do you attribute that to?

Ruth Soetendorp: “I think the hostility is there firstly because most people don’t perceive the intellectual property right as something they can have for themselves without having to go through the agency of an intellectual property advisor. [Intellectual property] is tied up with law. From my perspective working with business studies students rather than law students, there’s a built-in aversion to law — a fear of it. It needs demystifying in order to make the intellectual property aspect more accessible.”

Lawyers need to learn intellectual property law precisely because they’re going to practice. But business executives and creators need to learn how to use the IP system. What’s your experience with that difference?

James Conley: “When we train the students of the arts — and here I’m not speaking from experience, I’m just imagining it based on what I know about similar programs here in the United States— we’re training them to add value: Be creative, do something different. The curriculum is focused on making them generative. What we’re not doing is teaching them how to capture the value that they have added. I think we need to focus on, within education, adding that bit about capturing the value.”

For the recent IPWatchdog summary of the podcast, go here.

Hear the podcast on Apple, Spotify and elsewhere, or listen on the CIPU website.

Image source: CIPU

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