Should the general public know more about Intellectual Property? How important is it to teach IP to our children? These are some of the intriguing questions raised by the recent appointments of “Guru KI” (IP teachers) or “RuKi”.
Last August, the Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights, Eddy O. S. Hiariej, inaugurated 346 “Intellectual Property Teachers” (RuKI) as part of the “DJKI Mengajar” or “DGIP Teaches” program. These teachers are assigned to implement basic Intellectual Property knowledge and appreciation to elementary and middle-school level students, in 170 schools spread in each of the 33 Provinces, in collaboration with the regional offices of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. During the inauguration ceremony, Deputy Minister Hiariej underlines on what the ministry aims to achieve with the DGIP Teachers program. He hopes that initiative and the assigned teachers could help in “increasing and spreading understanding (of IP) and building public awareness on the urgency of IP protection”.
Why Is IP Education Important?
Intellectual property is not a subject that is commonly taught in schools. For the average person, the first introduction to IP will be received either during higher education or through their own research once they encounter IP-related issues. Moreover, a quick survey of online comments during any news about trademark disputes, copyright infringement, or any IP-related matters, would sufficiently expose the general public’s lack of fundamental knowledge. Naive comments such as "I just downloaded the film from Telegr*m, it doesn’t hurt right?", "How do I patent my brand?", "Why can't I use (well-known brand) for my merchandise?" are commonplace.
In regards to this, we’ve corresponded with Becki C. Lee, the author of “Do You Draw Pictures”, a children’s educational book on IP. As one of the few voices in this subject, she expressed that she feels “excited” by the DGIP program. “There is too much of a barrier to entry in terms of learning how IP actually works. Most people don’t learn about IP until it becomes an issue in their own lives, and often by then it is too late - they have assigned away their IP and/or been under-compensated for it. The concepts themselves are fairly simple, but they are widely misunderstood” explains Lee.
She also stressed on the value of having IP knowledge prior cases, especially for workers in sectors heavily involved in IP. “I think it’s extremely important for people to understand the differences among copyrights, parents, and trademarks BEFORE they have to worry about a dispute or transaction in their own lives. There is a lot of misinformation or disinformation about IP in the media and pop culture. Artists and inventors especially are at risk of losing valuable IP if they don’t understand how IP works from the beginning.”
“DGIP Teaches” is an excellent opportunity to implement key knowledge to the common people. In regards to IP education for children, Lee believes that “If we introduce the concepts early, people will have a better idea how to handle their own IP when they need to protect it”. Furthermore, the main goal of the program may be to improve society’s understanding and care for IP, but it could also do wonders for the students’ creative spirit. Children are inherently creative and curious-- teaching IP from an early age could crystalize and cultivate that innovative drive. It’s common to tell children the value of creativity, but it’s much better if they see concrete evidence of how it could help them in the future. They should know that their inventiveness could be rewarded and even become a source of income. For kids interested in tech, it could greatly motivate them if they see the power of patents. For artistic kids, show them how it could be a feasible job if they are smart in managing their copyright, etc. In short, IP education could awaken the latent potential that is in every child.
As IP consultants, we believe that a certain level of basic IP knowledge should be mandatory for any professional. Not only would it help them in identifying problems, but it also helps the communicative process with experts. Of course, there are still levels of IP expertise that we do not expect the layman to fully grasp. If you come across an IP related problem that you feel is beyond your capabilities, we are ready to bridge that gap for you.
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