SpicyIP Tidbit: HUL proposes inclusion of IPR in school syllabus

I don’t understand maths. But still, I made an effort to wake up at 5.30 a.m. every morning to solve maths problems, but to no use. I feel these problems are not at all relevant and useful”, a high school student in Karnataka frankly admitted this in his SSLC answer sheet, as reported yesterday in the Hindu. Various other answers such as chicken curry recipes, heartfelt appeals for pass marks are also apparently common place in math exams. Though these may seem humorous to the public, it shows, at least to some extent, the growing anguish in students.  As it is, the current syllabus seems insurmountable to them but now to add to their woes Hindustan Unilever is suggesting to the government to add Intellectual Property Rights as a separate subject in the curriculum for school children! As reported by the Economic Times, Dev Bajpai the executive director for legal and corporate affairs at HUL said “We have proposed to the government that intellectual property should be part of the syllabus in schools because we feel we have to catch them young”. This was a suggestion made by HUL to the new National IP Policy.

Estimates suggest that counterfeit products account for 3 to 5% of all products sold in the Rs 2.4-lakh-crore FMCG market in India. This translates into over Rs 8,000-12,000 crore of loss in sales for branded products each year(here). Therefore, loss of sales and brand dilution are concerns that owners of reputed trademarks have. In light of these facts, HUL has been making presentations to students to increase their awareness about trademark infringements. This is beneficial as it makes them aware of counterfeit products which are spilling into the market. Awareness building though a very constructive program, especially in relation to intellectual property rights in India, should be limited to that and should not be made into a subject (at school level) to be evaluated in exams.

To sum it up, as famously sung by Pink Floyd “…We don’ t need no thought control….Leave them kids alone!


Aparajita Lath

Aparajita graduated from the WB National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. She was formerly an editor of the NUJS Law Review. She is a lawyer based in Bangalore. All views expressed by her on the blog are her personal views.


  1. AvatarSusan K. Finston

    Why limit transmission of knowledge around IP to brand protection? Successful knowledge economies like Israel include intellectual property and technology transfer in educational curricula to empower students to be aware of their own creative capacities. This may well contribute to the growth of Israel as the “start-up nation,” with a record number of technology and life sciences start-ups:

    1. AvatarMadhukar Sinha

      The Indian society always valued sharing of knowledge. Events where knowledge was not readily shared did not get social appreciation. This starts from the story of Eklavya supposedly 5000 years old and continues to Prof Deepak Nayyar who in a WIPO Seminar, much to the consternation and discomfiture of the WIPO representatives, stated he was very happy to see his books being photocopied by students and to the Photocopying case being fought pro bono by young lawyers in the Delhi High Court.
      All this did not and does not make India a less innovative nation.

  2. AvatarMadhukar Sinha

    These chaps at HUL should be keelhauled and those who would agree with them shot between the eyes.
    Floyd got it right more’n 30 years ago.

  3. AvatarRamya Kumar

    I am very disappointed to read this. My first hand experience is that no one makes the effort to bring awareness as counterfeit market is an issue and more specially within the pharma sector; although they are are very eager to make it part of the curriculum! Ridiculous. This is going to have a negative effect on the kids. They will study it as part of their exams without actually understanding the issue at hand; so really the effect it should have is lost in the last minute of the three hour long exam!!!!!!


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