Opening Statements

New website explains IP to kids

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Screen capture of USPTO.GOV

Photo courtesy of USPTO.GOV

Officials at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are trying to convince children that learning about intellectual property protection is as hip as playing Minecraft. As part of its effort, the agency has redesigned its USPTO Kids website.

"The old kid pages were done a really long time ago. They had been a labor of love on the part of the people at USPTO who put them together, but they were very dated," says Joyce Ward, director of the office of education and outreach. "We've done an overhaul and brought [the pages] as close as we can to the 21st century."

The new webpages feature a variety of educational material, including videos, activities and coloring pages for kids and lesson plans for parents and teachers. Students can also learn about young innovators, such as Marissa Streng, who invented a device for drying pets.

The USPTO Kids website also features the office's collectible inventor cards. Kids can gather, collect and trade cards depicting patent holders, including Forrest Bird, inventor of the first mass-produced medical ventilator, and Sir Alec John Jeffreys, who is responsible for DNA fingerprinting.

Ward hopes the new pages will not only teach students about the importance of intellectual property creation and protection but also excite them about be-coming inventors themselves.

"We want students to realize how cool and exciting it is to be an inventor, author, artist or a maker of things," Ward says. "When they have that deep-seated appreciation, then they are better able to appreciate the protected property of others and to realize the value in protecting their own inventions."

This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of the ABA Journal with this headline: “Mommy, what's a patent? New website explains IP to kids”
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