Shouldn't The USPTO's Education Curriculum Be Accurate?

from the one-would-think-that's-the-point dept

I started my still-ongoing series of posts on intellectual property as a counter to the incredibly one-sided brain-washing educational campaigns put together by companies that only seemed to talk about how wonderful intellectual property was, never once mentioning the downsides or abuses. You can kind of understand this from companies who make their living off of intellectual property -- but it still seems quite questionable that any educational institution would accept and use such a biased "lesson plan." So, if the USPTO came out with its own lesson plan, you'd expect it to be a bit more balanced, right? Not so. The USPTO has created its own curriculum to try to teach kids "respect" for intellectual property law and it seems to be just as bad as the corporate backed lessons. Perhaps that's no surprise, as the USPTO gets its funds from patent application fees, so it has incentive to keep more applications coming in.

Even the way that USPTO boss Jon Dudas explains the program is problematic: "If you own something that is valuable, you want to protect it." That is not, and has never been, the purpose of the patent system. It's not about ownership and it's not about "protecting." It's about encouraging innovation. Simply by setting up this program as teaching kids about "protecting" something valuable they "own" is inaccurate. That's rather surprising, given that you would think the head of the USPTO would know what the patent system's purpose is. The website that hosts the curriculum has a short trailer video that has a clear false statement at the beginning, claiming "an invention needs to be protected by a patent." That would be quite a shock to Benjamin Franklin, who famously said of inventions: "That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously," before questioning the value of patents. Somehow, I get the feeling that statement didn't make it into the USPTO's lesson plan.
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Filed Under: curriculum, education campaign, intellectual property, patents, uspto
Companies: uspto


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  1. identicon
    Matt, 16 Apr 2008 @ 3:04pm

    the best inventors are why patents fail

    See, here's what happens

    if you are continually innovating (and capable of sustaining that), then even if people copy your current product by the time they can copy it, you will already have a new one. If you do a good job inventing (and not a "lets throw money at the wall and hope it sticks" approach), then even the legitimate copies will not be of as increased a quality as the next innovation/invention.

    Patents being a certain time is so you can make money off it, it's not to protect the product or stop other people from making their own things. However, as things are, variation patents and (I forgot the wording - I'll say "improvement patents") have a limited area they can cover if the original says "we cover all theoretically changes/improvements to this product.

    It's a discovery, and when things go public, it is no longer your own property, it is now public. That would mean the minute it's disseminated in any form there is a way, a will, a method that things are no longer solely owned by the original proprietor of the idea/innovation, unless the information is never disseminated.

    Once again, it is about innovation. If you keep innovating instead of sitting on your ass, you'd make more money than sitting on your ass. However, nobody seems to like to do that for the most part, nor knows how. Or the corruption from the temptations of enormous sums of money made from sitting on your haunches (lets face it - look at patent litigation lately).

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