Awareness Vs. Understanding (vis-à-vis Intellectual Property)

This article attempts to unveil the difference between awareness and understanding vis-à-vis Intellectual Property; the evidentiary gap between awareness and understanding leading to confusion and misinformation; heterogeneous reasons pointing out the lack of understanding amongst people and the comprehensive ways to overcome this stigma.

The knowledge society that we live in today has transformed the globe in terms of information, technology, and connectivity. Consequently, concepts like IP and IT pop up in the heads of every other “aware” social media user and influencer. The confusion, the lack of understanding is clearly reflected in the actions and reactions attributed in an attempt to get familiar with these gradual progressions and shift trends, though sometimes unsettling. In fact, a plethora of questions ranging from “Is privacy a myth?” to “Sharing someone’s work of art really constitutes an infringement?” has already been put out.

A possible conclusion that can be derived from these questions and confusion is the increase of awareness with regard to Intellectual Property as a concept. However, being aware of a concept or a thing does not necessarily mean the same is understood and perceived in the way intended.

There’s a gap between awareness and understanding when it comes to IP. People are aware that there exist things like patents, trademarks, copyrights, and a hint of what they probably do but they don’t really understand the rights, privileges, liabilities, and other intricacies attached to it. Increasing awareness is one thing; increasing understanding is something else.[1]The recent studies and trends conclusively indicate the problem of the hour is that the understanding is still lagging behind. The people are aware but not really literate. A study conducted by Einfolge, an International Patent Analytics and Market Research Company, stated despite being actively engaged in research and new innovations, over 35% of people are not aware of intellectual property rights (IPR). [2]

This lack of understanding is an outcome of a variety of heterogeneous opinions and reasons. Intellectual Property as a concept is perceived by some observers as falling along the line of “a bit too technical and hard” to implement and understand. Further, ideologies and outlook being subjective, there is a notable difference in construing various aspects of by the ones familiar with the subject, resulting in people being skeptical and uncertain towards indulging in the field at all. Moreover, sometimes the information intended to be disseminated with the purpose of educating people is often misleading. Many a time, patents and designs, copyrights and trademarks are used interchangeably indicating the lack of concept clarity from the source of dissemination itself.

To sum up, as per my comprehension, the only way to overcome the stigma around IPis by attempting to rectify the causes contributing to confusion and misinformation. In addition to this, as a way to extend support, the experienced, who are familiar and competent with the regular occurrence and dealings of Intellectual Property need to undertake and promote research in the field. Lastly, as for our legal system, the key lies in making future laws and amending existing laws with due consideration to reliability and predictability.


AUTHOR: Shreya Malhotra, Intern at Global Patent Filing. In case of any queries please contact/write back to us at

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