Top national design lawyer meets entrepreneurs-in-waiting

David Musker

30 March 2011

The importance of intellectual property for innovators, inventors and creators should not be underestimated, one of Britain’s leading industrial design lawyers has emphasised.

David Musker 1, of RGC Jenkins & Co, a firm of trade mark and patent attorneys, shared his expert knowledge with around 80 final year students during a rare masterclass at Aston University.

The masterclass brought together Industrial Product Design and Intellectual Property Law students, as well as those studying Mechanical Engineering, under one roof to share good practice and to identify ways in which the specialist student cohorts could collaborate to improve upon already glowing results.

David Musker, of RGC Jenkins & Co, said: “This is a marvellous way to foster awareness amongst those who create Intellectual Property. The role of patent agents would be made a lot easier, and entrepreneurs would be able to protect their IP more effectively, if more universities adopted such imaginative ways of approaching their teaching of IP.”

The event provided a self-managed learning opportunity for both student groups to acquire knowledge essential for their future careers. Industrial Product designers learnt how Intellectual Property (IP) works, and its relevance.  IP lawyers learnt how to apply academic knowledge in the client, adviser relationship.

The ‘advice letter’ model has potential to be applied in other contexts where self-managed learning between student groups would be beneficial. For example, between combinations of media, environmental, business, technology and science undergraduates.

Event hosts Professor Ruth Soetendorp, visiting academic from Bournemouth University and Christian Mclening from Aston’s School of Engineering & Applied Science, said: “We strongly believe that our society benefits from innovation. If creative people are encouraged to innovate, this not only improves the quality of our lives by providing us with new things that we need or want but it also creates job opportunities.”

The IP masterclass is itself a shining example good teamwork. Launched last year by module leader Claire Howell, senior lecturer at Aston Law2, together with Christian Mclening, the masterclass is being further developed and tailored by Professor Soetendorp to reflect our fast changing times.

Claire, who is keen to promote the teaching of IP at Aston but also within Europe and the developing countries, is one of the founders and coordinators of the European Intellectual Property Teachers’ Network, or EIPTN. This network brings together teachers from across Europe to exchange ideas on best practice and innovation in teaching and learning activities relating to intellectual property.

Commenting on the masterclass, Matthew Dusting, a final-year student on the Industrial Product Design degree course, said: “It was fascinating, I found it very valuable.” Matthew, aged 22, from Somerset, aspires to follow in the footsteps of his entrepreneur father, a property guru. He hopes to secure a job in the energy sector.

Another learner, Sandra Mileikyte, also on the Industrial Product Design degree course, described the masterclass as “amazing”. So amazing that she has asked her tutors to consider introducing this masterclass earlier in the degree programme. Sandra, aged 23, from Lithuania, hopes to one day work for a leading design and marketing agency in England.

Mature student Andrew Turner, from Malvern in Worcestershire, said the masterclass was an “eye-opener” and “thought-provoking” too. Andrew, who did a year-long work placement in Geneva last year, is passionate about design and hopes to secure a job, anywhere in the world, in either engineering or design.

Andrew’s fellow classmate, Amardeep Singh Ranue, found the masterclass “stimulating” and “very useful”. In particular, he found the safety aspects of IP “very interesting”. Twenty-one year-old Amardeep, from Halesowen in the West Midlands, hopes to pursue a career in the aviation industry. In addition to working towards his degree in Industrial Product Design, he is also studying for a professional Pilot Studies qualification. 

Commenting from a legal perspective, Laura Taylor, a final-year law student, said: “This project has really given us a chance to put our knowledge on intellectual property law into practice. We’re using what we know with a real client and trying to understand how a problem is experienced by the designers will stand us in good stead in the future.

She added:  “The structure of this module means that we are not only benefiting from the precise and accurate manner in which the law is taught to us, but that we also have the opportunity to practically apply this knowledge to truly understand and further appreciate its significance in the real world of commerce.”

For all media enquiries, please contact Dhiren Katwa, Press Officer at Aston Business School, on 0121 204 4954 or email d.katwa1@aston.ac.uk

  • (1) David Musker graduated in Materials Science with Honours from Imperial College, London University, and gained an LLM Masters Degree in IP Litigation with Distinction from Nottingham University. He worked in-house in government and the telecommunications industry before joining Jenkins. He specializes in communications, signal processing, computing and business-oriented subject matter, and designs. He has extensive experience of practice and advocacy before the UK and European Patent Offices. David is also author of two books on design law, and a number of articles and conference papers.

  • (2) Aston Law, part of Aston Business School, offers a number of specialist courses in Law at undergraduate and postgraduate level including an LLM in International Commercial Law. To find out more contact Course Director Frank Meisel on 0121 204 3347 or email f.meisel@aston.ac.uk

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