CLE15: Nottingham Creative IP Project (PH)

by Pamela Henderson on 21/06/2015

Presented by Nick Johnson and Janice Denoncourt from NLS.

Janice and Nick had sponsorship of £69,000 (a lot for Law) from the Intellectual Property Offic and the EU to establish a project that combined expertise from the NLS Legal Advice Centre, the IP Research Group, the Hive and the School of Art & Design.  They were focused on the creative industries, with the aims of  raising intellectual property awareness and turning innovative ideas into reality in what is a very dynamic and rapidly growing sector within the UK.  As Janice explained, the creative industries contribute £146,000 per minute to the UK economy, but also give immense pleasure and enjoyment to people, enriching our society.

However, there is evidence of a lack of IP knowledge, not only among those involved in the creative industries, but also among law students who are often unaware of its importance as a form of property.

Janice took us through the series of five IP workshops that were run from June 2014 to February 2015.  These:

  • Were designed for businesses and students in the creative industries.
  • Aimed to equip the with a better understanding of how to protect, manage and exploit ideas and IP
  • Provided practical client contact for students from the Legal Advice Clinic, guided by experienced IP lawyers and NTU staff.

Instead of taking a typical Law approach  in structuring the series of workshops (a day on copyright,  a day of trade marks etc), the team themed the workshops according to different creative industries invited to each workshop (broadly, these were: design, performance, moving images & broadcasting,interactive media & writing, art & image).  Staff and students were there of course, but also leading figures in relevant industries, professional advisers and experts in the field etc.

At each event, typically 30 – 50 delegates attended and feedback was extremely positive.

The team also produced a publication that was drawn from lessons learned during this innovative project: the Nottingham IP Guide for Creatives.  The Guide:

  • Provides a simple and accessible understanding of IP for creatives,to help them safeguard their ideas and businesses
  • Demonstrates how IP applies in the creative industries context through case studies
  • Offers advice on preparing to enter a collaborative project or meeting a lawyer

The Guide is free on request from

This initial project led to a second project, with another funding grant.  This relates to the IP management tool developed by the UK IP Office and involves a lot of NTU students supporting their Art & Design peers.

Nick explained how the team set up stall at the ARt & Design degree show festival 2015, which is held each year for a week.  Students from NLS were available throughout the week to conduct IP health checks via the IP management tool.  NLS students sat down with Art & Design students and led them through the tool to establish:

  • Did the student have IP to protect
  • Did the student actually own it
  • How could the student protect it and should they do that
  • How could the student exploit it commercially

Graduates, entrepreneurs and small businesses were also offered the opportunity to benefit from pro bono legal advice clinics delivered by NLS students, guided by experienced IP lawyers and NTU staff.  The project, therefore, was also a tool to develop the student awareness, literacy and understanding of IP issues across academic disciplines.

The team is reflecting on the outcomes from the initial run of the project, to see what worked well and what needs to be improved.  One point that emerged immediately is that greater ‘buy in’ is needed from colleagues in other disciplines, to gain more explicit support from them in encouraging their students to seek advice on IP issues.  Another point that the team is considering is where IP might be positioned within the Qualifying Law Degree.  Property is an important aspect of the QLD (Land and Trusts are both compulsory subjects), but there is weak recognition of IP as property.

The team is looking to form stronger connections between this project and other public benefit projects that NTU runs, such as Streetlaw.  Possibly, a website dedicated to Public Legal Education may emerge in time.




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