Community Outreach

UKZN hosts High School Summer Programme on Intellectual Property

Five KwaZulu-Natal high schools were invited to do presentations during a UKZN Summer School Programme on their understanding of intellectual property (IP) and innovation.

Schools which took part were:

  • Newlands East Secondary School where a Smartway walking stick has been developed as an alternative to guide dogs.
  • Eden College which reviewed various global copyright cases.
  • Dumehlezi Secondary School which presented on an arts and drama performance and how it could be protected on the basis of Intellectual Property regulations.
  • Westville Girls’ High School which demonstrated how the Griffin Guard Jacket it developed could ward off potential criminals
  • Umkhumbane Secondary School where a diffusing system has been created to remove storm drain blockages.

The presentations were judged by: UKZN Student Entrepreneurship Manager, Mr Khutso Ramontja; Academic Leader: Human Body and Function at UKZN’s College of Health Sciences, Dr Andile Khathi, and Ms Zama Buthelezi of Spoor and Fisher Attorneys.

First prize of R20 000 went to Umkhumbane Secondary School, second prize of R10 000 to Westville Girls’ High School, and third prize of R5 000 to Dumehlezi Secondary School.

The event, the 2020/2021 WIPO Summer School on Intellectual Property (IP) and Transfer of Technology (TT), was hosted by InQubate, the Technology Transfer Office within UKZN from 23 November to 3 December. It was held in collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) through the National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Japan Patent Office (JPO).

In his welcoming address, UKZN’s Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation Professor Mosa Moshabela encouraged students to fuel their curiosity in order to better understand things around them and drive progress and development in the world. ‘As you engage on issues of IP don’t think about it as something foreign or far away, but rather as something that can be applied to current everyday life.’ Moshabela wished the students well going forward and invited them to start imagining the future and realising that what they do today, impacts tomorrow.

The Acting Head of NIPMO Ms Paballo Masite remarked during her talk on how fortunate learners were to be exposed to IP at high school level and encouraged them to grasp a few concepts they could grow into as a field of interest or even a career. NIPMO is based within the Department of Science and Innovation and students were encouraged to view their website to find out more about service offerings.

The Executive Manager of CIPC, Ms Nomonde Maimela, explained how the organisation operated as an agency for the Department of Trade and Industry and was responsible for industry regulation and registrations of IP. Maimela said she was passionate about inspiring interest in IP among the youth as well as her company’s efforts to ensure that IP was incorporated in the basic education curriculum. Maimela focused on how IP was at the core of artificial intelligence, the fourth industrial revolution and the COVID-19 vaccines saying: ‘You need to be informed about how you can protect your IP as an inventor or artist so that you can benefit from it.’ 

Professor Sadulla Karjiker of Stellenbosch University gave an overview of copyright law and outlined how it was limited to literary, musical and artistic works. Karjiker explained how the work had to be original, in material form, with the author being a South African citizen residing or domiciled in South Africa or a Berne Convention country. 

He said IP was the cheapest form of property one could own, but identified work created during the course of employment as the exception, as it became the property of the employer. He mentioned how copyright had a definite life span that was generally valid for 50 years from the year of the creator’s death or the time the work was first published.

Mr Gregory Khoza of the CIPC interacted with learners in a question and answer session on the various forms of IP including trademarks, design, copyright and patents.

In closing, Technology Transfer Manager Ms Charlotte Mashaba thanked the school principals, teachers and the students for their participation in the programme. She also thanked InQubate’s partners, as well as sponsors Innovate Durban, Spoor and Fisher Attorneys and Adams & Adams for making the event possible.

Words: Hlengiwe Khwela

Photographs: Albert Hirasen

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