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Young minds focused on IP education

By Yin Pingping/Yuan Quan | China Daily | Updated: 2019-11-01 09:28

Students from a middle school in Anhui province display patent certificates they received from the National Intellectual Property Administration of China in 2017. [Photo  by Chen Li/For China Daily]

Teaching styles

The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China is an IP pilot school in Beijing. The teachers use regular textbooks and have held dozens of compulsory courses on patents, trademarks and copyright since 2005.

However, they had difficulty teaching abstract IP concepts, "which are far from the students' lives", said He Lingyan, one of the teachers. "Few students could understand or remember them."

The teachers altered their methods, using the examples of iPhones and shared bikes, with which students were familiar, to explain the IP involved and study patent dispute cases. The method worked.

Meng Shi was inspired. The 12-year-old noticed that people were reluctant to ride shared bikes on rainy days because the saddles were wet. In response, he designed a waterproof cover for the saddle, controlled by the bike lock through a low-cost mechanism. With the help of his teacher, Meng applied for a patent for his invention and tried to contact a bike-sharing company to use it.

Many schools organize activities to teach IP knowledge, such as debating competitions, summer camps, visits to science enterprises and moot courts.

While some people doubt the necessity of IP education at primary or secondary school, as it is mainly a commercial field, Li Zuolin, head of the Renmin-affiliated high school's IP teaching group, said it is "necessary and urgent".

Li recently traveled to the US to attend a science and technology education seminar, where a well-known international publisher was offering free sets of popular science books aimed at young people. When Li asked for a set, the publisher refused, because the books had previously been pirated on the Chinese mainland.

"I was so embarrassed," Li said."It made me understand once again the importance of IP education, which should be stepped up, starting with teenagers."

Hua Bing, founder of a Chinese IP information consultancy, finds that despite China's progress, many people, including business executives and researchers, still don't respect IP rights.

"They do not care about infringement or even being infringed, because people of my generation and previous generations grew up with very limited exposure to IP concepts," Hua said, noting that China's patent law was published in 1985 and people just a decade or two older are unfamiliar with the concept of IP.

"I really think it's necessary to cultivate awareness of IP protection from a young age. When children receive IP education and participate in related activities at school, they may influence their parents at home, which will gradually improve society as a whole."

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