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
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2008 @ 5:27pm


    Franklin's quote notwithstanding, it is important to realize that he did have a day job and did not need to earn a living from what he invented.
    What, you mean he competed fairly in the marketplace for his income? He didn't rely on a government granted monopoly to give him an advantage? Oh my gosh, what was wrong with him?

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