In various emerging economies, public research institutions and universities contribute significantly towards research, development, and innovation. Furthermore, in these economies, the right set of skills and talent for innovation also emerges from educational institutes. For quite a while now, the importance of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) in higher education has been widely recognized and realized. The credits for the same can be given to the National IPR Policy approved by the Union Cabinet in the year 2016, which was the first-ever IPR policy framed by the Indian Government. This policy primarily focuses on promoting creativity and innovation, that too, especially amongst higher education institutions and entrepreneurs. It has specifically mentioned its beliefs for synergizing all forms of Intellectual Property Rights, agencies, and statutes for tapping the energies of creativity and innovation within the country with more emphasis on educational institutions and start-ups.
The central authority for determining and maintaining the standards of university education in India, University Grants Commission (UGC) has issued a letter stating the inclusion of IPRs under the Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) as a generic elective subject. Additionally, the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) is a ranking system adopted by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), which ranks higher educational institutes in India. These rankings encourage the institutions to promote development, research, and innovation and access their performance beyond the aspect of academics. A crucial parameter considered while ranking the institutions is Research and Professional Practice, including IPRs and patents – both granted and published by faculty members and students having a weightage of somewhere around 15 marks. The engineering and technology institutes usually have the highest number of publications and Patent Applications. The ranking of the educational institutions is always found to be directly proportional to the number of patent applications filed. Moreover, now, there has been a significant increase in the number of research publications and patent applications, as compared to the previous years since the announcement of this ranking system for the first time in 2016.
However, the awareness of Intellectual Property Rights remains limited to higher educational institutes only, due to which, efforts must be put in to make Intellectual Property (IP) a part of the curriculum in schooling. Such initiatives will help in ensuring that IP awareness begins at an early stage in the education systems. Unfortunately, most of the people around the world have minimal awareness about the benefits they can enjoy by protecting their IP Rights. According to various reports and surveys conducted by experts, IPRs, including trade secrets, design patents, and geographical indication (GI), need more attention to get the benefits of IP rights. Therefore, the fact that IPRs have been made a part of the education curriculum is encouraging, which shall ultimately prove to be a smarter way of reforming the education sector.