Leveraging IP awareness among law students in Puerto Rico
When Lorraine Juarbe, a professor of law at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, learned about the World Intellectual Property Day 2023 Video Competition, she couldn’t think of a better way for her students to grasp the importance of intellectual property (IP) rights. She rallied her students and encouraged them to work together to produce what became a prize-winning entry. In the process of creating their entry, the students had to really think about why IP rights are important for inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs, how we all benefit from creative ecosystems that are inclusive and diverse, and why it is important to raise understanding and awareness of IP in all sectors. Their entry overcame tough competition, winning third prize out of 180 entries from 72 countries.
The importance of IP education in our fast-moving digital world
In today’s fast-moving digital world, Juarbe is keen to ensure that her students are well versed in IP rights and equipped to navigate the IP system. “Everyone should have a clear understanding of IP rights to avoid unintentional violations,” she says. “The internet, while an incredible platform for global communication, often leads people to overlook the fact that the content they access is created by someone who needs to earn a living from their work.”
Juarbe finds it paradoxical that while tech savvy, the millennial generation rarely thinks about how technology is developed or the rules around its use. “Millennials tend to believe that if it’s on the internet, it’s free,” says Juarbe. “As children start using tables at a very young age,” Juarbe believes that the only way to promote greater respect for IP rights is to “start teaching IP at elementary school.”
However, teaching IP is not without its challenges. Indeed, the constant evolution of IP legislation is one of the biggest hurdles teachers face. “IP legislation is constantly evolving, and for good reason, as it needs to keep pace with rapid technological developments. No sooner than lawmakers fully understand the economic impact of a new technology and its effect on the market, another new technology appears. So, it’s really important to keep up with the latest developments. In this context, my role as an educator is to teach my students the fundamentals of IP law. In particular, how IP rights can protect the interests of authors, inventors, and entrepreneurs. It’s also our role to provide our students with the knowledge and understanding they need to respect copyright and other IP rights when navigating the digital world and the IP laws that govern it,” Juarbe explains.
The benefits of hands-on experience
The students’ participation in the World Intellectual Property Day 2023 Video Competition was a great opportunity for them to explore the practical benefits of IP rights for inventors, creators, and entrepreneurs as well as the importance of promoting inclusive and diverse ecosystems for innovation and creativity. “The video project demonstrated the power of hands-on learning to unpack complex issues like IP. Through their video project, the students didn’t just learn about IP law, they experienced it,” Juarbe notes.
The process of “researching, writing and developing the script and the visuals for the video gave the students an insight into the creative process, the time, energy and effort it involves and why creators owe it to themselves to protect their work,” Juarbe explains. The exercise also helped them to better “understand how to go about protecting their work,” as well as the importance and benefits of encouraging diversity of opinions in the learning process.
“The core message of the video is that by registering your work, you open the door to opportunities to monetize and to negotiate a fair return for its use. Puerto Rico is home to many creators, yet many of them find it difficult to negotiate a fair reward for their work. That is why it is so important to promote IP awareness among our creators, so they know their rights and are familiar with the options available to them before engaging in draconian contracts,” Juarbe explains.
In addition to serving as an entry to the World Intellectual Property Day 2023 Video Competition, the video has also enabled the students to promote a local initiative to establish an IP clinic managed by students, law graduates, and pro bono attorneys. “The video has proven to be a valuable tool in securing grants and funding for this initiative. Once the clinic starts to operate, students will have yet more invaluable, practical experience in promoting understanding and awareness of IP among Puerto Rico’s creative community,” Juarbe says.
Building on the students’ success in the World Intellectual Property Day 2023 Video Competition, Juarbe is already motivating her students to start thinking about their entry to the World Intellectual Property Day 2024 Youth Video Competition, to launch on January 8, 2024. She sees this as an exciting opportunity for her students to delve even deeper into IP and its role in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). And in 2024, the students are setting their sights on the top prize!