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Lesson 5:  Intellectual Property


Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images.  It is imagination made real.  It is how the idea materializes itself and the end result that is protected with a patent, a copyright, or a trademark.

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Task 1: Anatomy of a Patent

Patents protect the ownership of ideas for products and processes.  To get a patent, technical information about the invention must be disclosed to the public in a patent application. Spend a few minutes exploring the diagram below to help you understand the components of a patent.

Date of Issue
Document #
Patent Examiner
Title of Invention
Application #
Representative Drawing
Claims are a list of unique details needed to create the invention.  This is a good place to start when trying to understand what the invention actually is.
Task 2: Searching for a Unique Idea

Extraordinary Innovations

  • Are all inventions unique ideas?

  • How can you use existing ideas to create new innovations?

  • How do you know your idea is original?

In order to determine if your idea is unique, you will need to do a search.  Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo crawl the Internet, gathering information about millions of websites. At the click of a button, a search engine sorts through what it “knows” and lists the sites it "thinks” you want. You tell the search engine what you want by using keywords.

Task 3: Fetch!


• What foods are toxic to dogs? (Name four)
• What breeds of dogs are the smartest? (Name four)
• What jobs do dogs do for people? (Name four)
• What are some of the smallest and largest dog breeds? (Name two of each)

Working with your elbow partner, choose one of the questions above and write it down on your Fetch handout.  You will work through a multi-step internet search to find the answers to your question.

You will have 10 minutes to:

SEARCH for the answer to your question using a single keyword – for example, dog.
RECORD the total number of sites included in the search results (on the first search results page).
INVESTIGATE the top three sites on their results page to see if they can quickly find the answers to
their questions.
REPEAT the previous three steps, using two keywords. If the answers to your questions still do not
appear in the first three search results,  continue to add additional keywords until you find what you are looking for.
WRITE the answers to your question on your handout., noting how many searches
you had to do to find the answers, and how many keywords you used. Finally, they should write down
the names of two sites from which they got answers.

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Task 4: Doggy Data

We will now see how quickly you can hunt down specific information about dogs!  Read through the questions on the Doggy Data Student Handout, Working in pairs, one group member will record information on the handout. You will record the keywords you used to
search, and at least two sites where you found their answers.


CHALLENGE: find the answers to the three questions in as few searches as possible. You will need to choose your keywords carefully, using words that are accurate, relevant, and precise..  Group terms that go together in quotation marks (e.g., “Fancy Feast”).

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Task 5: Honesty Pledge

Why is honesty important? - It is extremely important that students understand that what they are presenting in the competition is an original idea and represents their own work.  The cornerstone of the design iteration process is originality.  It can be tempting to "borrow" ideas you have seen or "Googled" when you are stuck.  This is not only ethically dishonest, but will eventually be discovered in the judging process and your entry disqualified.

  • Why is honesty important?

  • What is your responsibility in your classroom to have high moral standards for yourself?  What does that look like?

  • Do you think students in elementary school should sign an honesty pledge indicating their work is original?

  • How would you word a pledge for elementary students to insure honesty?

  • Why do good people sometimes choose to cheat or copy other's ideas?

  • What should you do if you are tempted to copy an idea from a classmate or the internet?

Extension Activity 1

Now it is your turn to show what you know about Patents!  You will receive a handout that contains a diagram from U.S. Patent #1, 124,925. Cut our the box and follow the instructions in the patent.  What did you make?  Create a new use for this invention.

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Extension Activity 2
Spot The Invention
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The labeled items on the following image are a small sampling of inventions that are, or once were, protected by patents. Can you locate any other inventions in this image? Click the arrow on the right to go to the next page. Click on blue circles to see the examples of patents related to these objects.

Trademark Graveyard

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Some common terms were once trademarks.  Enter the Trademark Graveyard to see which terms were ruled to be generic, because their primary significance to the public became the name of the product itself. They are now part of our everyday vocabulary. 

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