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Better understanding of intellectual property urgently needed

23 October 2012

Students’ inability to see a link between intellectual property (IP) and commercial success will have a negative effect on the UK’s economy, say engineers.

The IET London headquarters in Savoy Place
The IET London headquarters in Savoy Place

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) makes the warning today (Tuesday 23 October) as a report, analysing student attitudes and understanding of IP, is published.

The report, published by the National Union of Students (NUS) in partnership with the Intellectual Property Awareness Network (IPAN) and the Intellectual Property Office, worryingly shows that students do not see a strong correlation between IP and commercial success.

Graham Barber, IET principal policy advisor, and the IET representative on IPAN said: “Whilst we welcome this unique study, which for the very first time gets the view from students, one of the rather startling findings is that students fail to understand the link between IP and commercial success.

“If the UK is to continue to effectively compete, it is essential that we have an innovative engineering sector at its heart.  Our future engineers and technicians must clearly understand the benefits and obligations of IP.

“In order to address this issue, a solid understanding of IP should be part of every engineering course.  Ultimately, universities and accreditation bodies must work together to strengthen knowledge in this area.”

Rachel Wenstone, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education), said: “Intellectual property is a significant issue for many UK students, not only for the successful completion of their academic course, but as importantly, to ensure students understand how ideas are recognised and protected, to prepare them for the growing world of enterprise and innovation beyond graduation.

“Improvements are clearly needed. Students want IP education to be integrated into their courses, and linked to their future career options.”

The report concludes only 40 per cent of students consider their current awareness of IP to be enough to support them in their future career.

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