As investment and opportunities in the technological and creative sectors continue to grow, so does the course provision in these areas. This makes knowledge and understanding about intellectual property a vital life skill that students can refer to when it comes to all forms of content creation.
Here’s a quick guide for teachers around the different ways intellectual property can be protected and examples of what courses they could apply to.
Copyright protects music, art, film, literary works and broadcasts from being copied. It is not something you have to apply for and usually comes into force as soon as a piece of work appears in a fixed form. The work is then protected for the creator’s life plus 70 years.
It is useful to teach students, especially students of creative subjects, about copyright so they are aware of how their intellectual property can be protected. It also opens the discussion of plagiarism and makes them aware of the fact that most things found online or in print are someone’s IP.
Courses that could benefit from lessons on copyright: Music & Music Production, Art & Design, Media, English & Creative Writing, Photography, Film & Film Production, Performing Arts and more.
Trademarks protect brand identity i.e. words, names, sounds and symbols used for companies and brands. For something to serve as a trademark it must be distinctive and used for commercial purposes. Trademarks must be registered with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) and can last forever.
When students, particularly business students, learn about trademarks they gain an understanding about brand identity and how they can be an extremely valuable asset to an organisation.
Courses that could benefit from lessons on trademarks: Business Studies, Marketing, Professional Courses, Law and more.
Patents protect inventions and can be applied to machines, processes and genetically modified organisms. To be eligible for a patent, the invention must be brand new and must not be considered obvious by experts in the field. Patents protect and invention from being commercially made, used, distributed or sold without the patent owner’s consent and can last for 20 years upon filing. In return for this protection the inventor is required to publicly disclose the technical details of the invention in order to promote and further innovation and creation in that field.
It’s important for students to learn about patents, as inventions are often the result of hard work, and so it is important to recognise that the time and effort spent developing an idea can be protected by a patent.
Courses that could benefit from lessons on patents: Computing & ICT, Engineering, Food Technology, Science & Technology, Business Studies and more.
Other ways of keeping IP safe can include Trade Secrets (e.g. KFC original recipe), Registered Designs (the shape of the Coca-Cola Bottle) and Geographical Indications (Darjeeling tea).
Between copyright, trademarks and patents; individuals or companies almost always have a legal way to keep their intellectual property safe. So, whether teaching creative studies, technological studies, sciences or business, it’s important for students to learn to not only respect other people’s intellectual property but know how to protect their own.
Please note that this blog should not be considered as legal advice. Theirs is huge amount of information and resources about IP available to refer to, including:
- Intellectual Property Office: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectualproperty-office
- World Intellectual Property Organisation: https://www.wipo.int/portal/en/
- Cracking Ideas: https://crackingideas.com/
- IPKat: http://ipkitten.blogspot.com/
- qLegal: http://www.qlegal.qmul.ac.uk/resources/index.html