Coming to a school near you ...?

Crestfallen, the class learns that their brilliant scheme for knitting their own  adidas tracksuits may have serious legal repercussions ...
A very good friend of the IPKat is not only an excellent intellectual property lawyer but, through some strange quirk of fate, a fully qualified secondary school teacher. In a discussion with this Kat, his friend observed that it would be a good thing if IP lawyers spent some time in schools, talking to children about IP. There were two immediate advantages in doing this: it would give youngsters some idea of what they could do without running into legal trouble and, more importantly, it would also alert the more creative of them -- particularly musicians, artists and writers -- as to the precautions they might take to guard against being ripped off by others.

This all struck the Kat as a good idea, not least since he was involved some years ago in trying to untangle a number of school-related IP problems. In one case he helped sort out the mess after some sixth-formers [note to readers from outside the jurisdiction -- 'sixth-formers' are children in the two final years before the leave school for tertiary education, a gap year or what is sometimes termed "the real world"] decided that their school drama production for the year would be a popular musical which was concurrently running in a West End theatre: they thought there was no problem with copyright since they'd printed the music and lyrics off the internet instead of photocopying them on the school's reprographic apparatus, and that it was okay to perform the show because they weren't doing it professionally. In another instance a school production wanted to use a chunk of text from the English translation of a work by a popular 20th century Italian novelist: they assumed that this was okay because the author was dead.

The point of all this is that the Kat's friend has boldly agreed to lead a little initiative which, until a better name comes along, is provisionally entitled 'EduKat'.  We are looking for IP lawyers and enthusiasts -- any sort will do -- who fit one or more of the categories:

  • willing to give up a little of their time to visit secondary schools and speak to students in a balanced way about both what IP can do for them and what it stops them doing;
  • qualified to teach at secondary school level;
  • having previous experience of speaking about IP in schools;
  • neither experienced or qualified but prepared to give it a try, with the aid of some guidance and/or training in how to approach it.

If you'd like to be involved, please email your interest to IP in Schools at, with the subject line 'EduKat' and, if possible, give a brief outline of any experience or qualifications that might be relevant.
Coming to a school near you ...? Coming to a school near you ...? Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, September 06, 2012 Rating: 5


  1. I now give a one hour 'lecture' or lesson every year at my local secondary school (or 'Academy' as it now is) on IP, at the behest of the Head of Design Technology for the lower sixth form: the talk is called 'protecting your ideas" (and does cover the lack of protection for ideas in most areas!) with a brief shuffle through Copyright, the Design Right, Patent law and Trade Marks.

    It's somewhat basic of course, but I always get asked some really good questions and clearly some of the students find the topic interesting - including patents and design rights although these students are perhaps more interested than most.

    TV format rights always prompt responses - make sure you are aware of 'X-Factor and 'Pop Idol' similarities and differences! The other area of 'concern' is always file sharing, illegal downloading - and format shifting - and why these activities might be illegal!

    One word of caution, whilst I am a university lecturer, I am not a secondary school teacher and so usually CRB checks would apply in England and Wales as far as I know.

  2. My wife is a teacher, and her understanding is that a CRB check would not be necessary if a member of staff were present during teh time that an external speaker was making a presentation.

    Conversely, in order to give presentations unsupervised, a CRB check would need to be made in respect of each school.


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