IP Awareness and Understanding: Bridging the Gaps

IP Awareness and Understanding: Bridging the Gaps: Intellectual property (IP) refers to human creations like inventions, artistic works, literary works, names, designs, among others. IP is protected by different IP rights such as patents, copyright, trademarks, etc., which enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from their invention or creation. This limited right to exclude third parties from copying IP protected inventions, original works and trademarked brands/logos inspires innovators to invest their time and money. Furthermore, IP appeals to the general public by discouraging fabricating creativity, innovation, development and is leveraged by entrepreneurs seeking start-up capital. However, it is important for people to understand how IP fuels the innovation economy.

In recent years, IP’s significance has grown manifold. Due to this growth it is not surprising that IP awareness has also grown rapidly. Today, people are increasingly exposed to references about IP on social media, news channels, print media, and other public channels. However, those references to IP are not always accurate and often require explanations.

Awareness vs Understanding

IP awareness and IP understanding are not the same thing. This means that despite being aware of IP rights, people may not really understand them. Statistics show that even though IP awareness is increasing rapidly, IP understanding is not on the same trajectory. So why do people lack IP understanding? There are numerous reasons for this. First, IP is complex. Articles related to IP often refer to different types of IP confusingly. Furthermore, sometimes authors get confused about numerous aspects of patents – for instance, the difference between a patent and a patent application, confusing patent issue dates with patent application filing and publication dates, among others. Second, the public debate about IP. Notably, lawyers strongly argue for their preferred positions and those of their clients. They may take extreme steps to make their points for negotiations, including statements that may unreasonably damage the IP system rather than questioning the value of innovation. This may misinform the public about the benefits of IP. Therefore, it is crucial for the public to realize the importance of IP and understand the fine balance among IP system constituents.

Basic Tenets of IP

Misunderstanding of the IP system results in loss of confidence in the IP system and lack of respect for IP. In keeping the IP system relevant, you must not lose sight of the basic tenets of IP. You must respect the IPs of other individuals, companies and countries.  Moreover, any concerns about the IP system must be addressed specifically and focus must be placed on improvement without criticizing the entire IP system.

Way Forward

Even though the significance of IP is widely acknowledged, people do not possess an in-depth understanding to affirm sincere respect for IP rights in practice. People who are familiar with IP matters are obligated to help others overcome confusion and to act to enhance appreciation of IP and its value.

– The IPMS and Editorial Team

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