The latest installment of the IP Education Series is here (previous posts: Intro and #1). But, before we get into the post, myself and Ruth would like to thank those of you who have got in contact with us detailing your thoughts, comments, and contributions! Please continue to do so: we would like to encourage all further engagement. Continuing the series is IP Lawyer Agathe Michel-de Cazotte, writing on her experience supporting the IP Management module:
Dealing with innovation is key to future decision makers
When I first walked into Cass Business School (City, University of London), I knew the message I wanted to convey to the students. I would soon find out what they were looking for, as they were allowed to listen in for a week or two, and then choose whether or not they would attend the IP module during the term. The challenge was to demonstrate that having basic IP knowledge was relevant whatever business career they eventually decided to embrace. I was advising an IoT company in valuing its IP rights at the time and I wanted these business students to walk out of our first session having understood the ins and outs of this type of IP portfolio and how innovation and business strategies work hand-in-hand. Let's be honest, that session was not a difficult one at all: the classroom was full of tech-savvy, marketing and design sensitive, keen young adults who wanted to understand precisely what was behind a structured innovation strategy.
As a private practitioner, teaching IP to non-law students is a fascinating experiment, and I was thrilled by the opportunity to have a look at the legal tools I use each day for my clients in a different way. I have to admit that students very strongly challenge the established rules, and that discussing practical innovation strategy decisions with them has proven to be extremely interesting each time.
How much law do business students want ?
Having lectured in that module a couple of times now, I know that the challenging aspect lies rather in determining the right balance between key legal concepts, which one cannot ignore when dealing with IP, and staying as close as possible to the innovation related decisions taken by various teams within a company.
- Keep it practical and bespoke
As private practitioners, bringing in real-life examples and making it about the company's innovation rather than about the local IP rules is something we are used to doing. However, we do it knowing our client and understanding the drivers and obstacles in their market. When teaching, it is crucial that what we talk about resonates with the students. To a certain extent, we picture what feels familiar to them; however, there are aspects we simply cannot guess such as the field they want to work in, or have already had a summer job experience in. We have had musicians asking us whether their music "inspired" by other pieces was actually theirs, App programmers suddenly realizing what open source software meant, students considering participating in an existing business and looking for guidance in protecting and monetizing intangible assets. This information helps us determine which real-life examples to use and the way to do so, in order to ensure that students engage with the topics in a very personal way if possible, or at least in a familiar one if they do not have pressing creation/innovation questions on their minds. The key issue is indeed not what topics to teach as they need to have an understanding of the full range of IPRs, but rather determining the optimal way for the message to get across to a group of business students.
- What about jurisprudence?
The majority of them won't learn legal rules through jurisprudence as we did in law school – even in our civil law countries. At the end of the semester, only very few actually remember a set of facts and how the legal finding associated to it came about. Nevertheless, they end up analysing the IP strategy of a large company, and it is fair to say that we usually receive in-depth reports which clearly show that they have absolutely understood the key steps in shaping an IP strategy and the legal concepts underlying the IPRs. If the result is there, i.e. if our students will be part of the few marketing, advertisement, or sales teams who have an instinctive IP reaction in the appropriate situation, and know e.g. when to keep an IP asset confidential, how to do so, and the reasons and ways of using it, some might ask why bother with jurisprudence? For us lawyers the fact that, in the grounds of a decision, the origin and logic of the legal rule come out, is certainly a good enough reason. For a business student in particular, jurisprudence is necessary also in realizing that law is evolving and that, even if codified law remains unchanged, rules can be construed differently at different times and by different courts; as well as in understanding what IP related issues lead to litigation and the risk a company exposes itself to by ignoring established rules.
Business students want to implement the law
Students at Cass Business School have elected the module because they recognize that IP should be a useful practical tool in their future careers. They thus actively engage with the IP rules they learn, thinking through what they would decide if they had an IP asset, e.g. by discussing the ins and outs of an IPR with a guest having started a company or managing a company's IP portfolio, or even by challenging innovation strategy decisions of established companies. Each tutorial also allows the smaller group to confront views on the right way of managing IP at a very detailed level and taking into account various business drivers on top of the IP rules.
[Guest Post] IP Education Series #2 Reviewed by Tosshan Ramgolam on Thursday, October 24, 2019 Rating: