School’s Out for Summer
Not at WIPO! On July 27, 55 young people participating in the WIPO Summer School on Intellectual Property delivered their final presentations before receiving their certificates from the WIPO Academy and heading back home. They had arrived two weeks earlier from 40 different countries, each with their own ideas on IP and its pertinence to their home countries, and the Summer School program exceeded their expectations. “It was an amazing exchange of experiences. I highly recommend it.” said Silvia Saba, a student from Italy. It was a sentiment echoed by many others.
As Benny Spiewak, legal counsel in a Brazilian law firm, put it, “There was one lawyer defending the Maori and another, the big pharmaceutical companies. We were a worldwide community in one room.”
The objective of the WIPO Summer School is to provide an opportunity for senior students and young professionals to acquire deeper knowledge of IP, and to gain an appreciation of IP as a tool for economic, social, cultural and technological development and the role WIPO plays in the global administration of IP. This year’s Summer School was held over two weeks, and included lectures, case studies, simulation exercises and group discussions. The lectures were oriented toward the interface between IP and other disciplines, rather than remaining on generalized IP topics. “The course helped me to put all the different aspect of IP together in a framework and see how they interconnect,” said András Jókúti of the Hungarian Ministry of Justice and Law Enforcement.
Shami Faranisi, a Zimbabwean student of sustainable environmental development, said “IP is taken seriously, development will happen for real. It is not too late to start to educate to create awareness.”
The participants were selected on merit from hundreds of applicants. Of those selected, 33 were students and 22 were young professionals from different backgrounds and diverse fields of study, with a slight predominance of lawyers. But the group also included a teacher, an economist, a life sciences researcher, a biotechnology and genetics engineer and students in economy, geography, physics, computer sciences, engineering, etc. The aim was to encourage discussion and the exchange of views. Dan Shi, an engineer from China with a Masters Degree in IP law, said “The questions students asked taught me a lot. I learned more about what people really think and their attitude on issues such as traditional knowledge and copyright in the digital environment. I realized there were many differences, but that we also had things in common.”
Sejeong Kim, a Korean physics student, highlighted the value of the case studies. At the end of the course he said, “I’ve got a broader outlook. I want to contribute to the harmonization of IP law in Asia – like it is in Europe.” Sevidzem, a PhD student in International Law from Cameroon, took the course to gain an understanding of patent policy in the area of pharmaceuticals and of the question of access to medicine for poorer countries. “I got answers to this question and also found out about other dimensions, such as the traditional knowledge aspect. I will integrate this into my work.”
The course also provided a valuable opportunity for networking among participants. Many considered that they had created lifelong links on an international level that would serve them well in their future careers.
By Sylvie Castonguay, WIPO Magazine Editorial Staff, Communications and Public Outreach Division