[Guest Post] IP Education Series #3

This week's installment of the IP Education Series is here (previous posts: Intro, #1, and #2). Continuing the series is Dr Janice Denoncourt, with a post on Gen. Z and IP Education:

Generation Z, IP Education and UN2030 SDG 9
Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

Sustainability is now a prominent theme in university teaching and research in my own institution and others across the UK and further afield. For example, the University of Oslo Law School held its first ‘IP and Sustainability Workshop’ on 15 June 2018. An edited collection to disseminate the academic contributions to that initiative is on track for publication in 2020.

In my university lectures and seminars, I have the pleasure of teaching and listening to many students who are passionate about the environment and the future they will have on our planet Earth. They seek a deeper understanding of the role of IP rights in society. WIPO holds that over four hundred years of history has shown that effective national and international IP systems are an essential and powerful tool to support global innovation and creativity. In education pedagogy terms, knowledge of the variety of IP rights transverses disciplines - a lifelong skill or competency used across academic subject areas. For example, IP education supports citizenship, entrepreneurship, the arts, ICT and STEM education and will now also begin to more visibly support sustainability. For the planet to sustain a future predicted population of 8.5 billion by 2030, innovation and creativity will be vital to driving more efficient and better use of our resources.

The new academic year is well underway in UK universities and higher education institutions in the northern hemisphere. IP law is now a standard elective offered on most qualifying law degree (LLB) courses and continues to increase in popularity, especially with students who regard the subject as ‘new’ law at the centre of the creative and innovation economies. There are many themes that run through the IP law, a discipline that is constantly adapting, whether in response to technological advancement or as a result of shifting perceptions regarding the appropriate reach of IP protection. In early 2019, I embedded a new, contemporary theme, namely, the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation into my IP law syllabi.

The global task of achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs) has the overarching societal goal of ensuring ‘development that meets the needs of the present while safeguarding Earth’s life-support system, on which the welfare of current and future generations depends.  In October 2019, my own institution (Nottingham Trent University), advised all academic staff that embracing ‘Sustainability’ is part the institution’s strategic plan going forward. In terms of curriculum development, NTU launched a UN SDG training and development module ‘Sustainability Teaching Resources’ to assist its lecturers in embedding 'sustainability' into curricula across the university. The 30' online module focuses on how academics can relate their teaching to the UN SDGs and encourages staff to engage with different aspects of the UN SDGs to enhance teaching and learning. In other words, the UN’s sustainable agenda is being prioritised.

Sustainable development necessarily has an IP dimension - especially UN SDG 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure which aims to ‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’. Once students link the aims of SDG 9 to the IP law framework, they begin to critically evaluate the role of IP in a more holistic manner. In early 2019, I piloted IP and sustainability as a topic in my LLM IP law modules. I found that introducing SDG 9 generates positive discussions of the inventions afforded protection by time-limited monopolies and the delicate balance with competition law and other stakeholders. This approach also enables students to reflect on controversial issues such as global warming, the role of competition law, open-source innovation and software licences, among others. SDG 9 provides a contemporary IP education platform to illustrate the need to balance competing interests, through respectful discussion to arrive at potential solutions. With an increasingly diverse cohorts of students from a variety of national, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds this is no easy task. However, SDG 9 provides a focus for students, whether they hail from a developed country or lesser-developed states, to contribute and potentially be inspired to see their role in the future sustainable global innovation ecosystem.

In my own article research on the subject, Corporate Intellectual Property Assets and UN 2030 Sustainability Goal 9 Innovation’ (2019) Vol 19, Part 2 Journal of Corporate Law Studies, I examine whether the corporate law concept of ‘stewardship’ has import for the IP rights law framework alongside ‘ownership’ in the emerging literature. The Green Channel is a way to accelerate patent applications for inventions that have an environmental benefit. As research-led teaching is desirable, the class critically discusses how the UKIPO’s green patent channel supports sustainability.

For the latest and next generation of IP law students, sustainability will likely be an umbrella theme of their generation (not to mention Brexit!). With the help of our brightest IP aware minds, I wonder what new creations and inventions will transform our existence on planet Earth in the next decade?
[Guest Post] IP Education Series #3 [Guest Post] IP Education Series #3 Reviewed by Tosshan Ramgolam on Thursday, November 21, 2019 Rating: 5

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