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Review related terms from last session: copyright, fair use, mash-up, respect, piracy, file sharing, etc. Also, this session allows for make-up time from last session to wrap up previous activities.

Topics covered on this webpage

Students Create A Work

This session provides idea activity options based on time availability and students’ needs. Teachers should use lesson content as necessitates.

There is also an informative online student guide by the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance for young entrepreneurs.

Exploring multiple intellectual properties

Students as creators actively explore multiple types of intellectual property related to protecting their own works. This session provides multiple student activity options based on time availability and students’ needs. Teachers are encouraged to adapt the session content and use the activities as required to fit their discipline and student level.

Post the following words on the chalk board: intellectual property, copyright, trademark, and patents. Then ask the class: What do all these words have in common? How might these things help authors, musicians, artists, computer game creators, and inventors. Next talk about career ties to intellectual property; discuss hobbies or possible careers of students and related intellectual property. You might survey or ask students about their hobbies and interests, and educational and career aspirations. Tie their replies to the appropriate intellectual property which they may encounter as professional users or creators. E.g. office workers respect of computer software licensing agreements; inventors & businesses intellectual property (IP) for their products or services; musicians & film makers and their creative works, etc.

Monopoly's multiple
intellectual properties

The popular board game Monopoly has a patent, trademarks and copyrights associated with it. The U.S. utility patent 2,026,082 issued in 1935 has passed into the public domain. Hence, there are many regional- and specialty-opoly games now available by various sources. The registered trademarks are still alive along with the copyrighted game rules and other related works. See Intellectual Properties game idea for related class activity.

Student activity: Idea for creative work, or business product or service. Students could also form small groups to create this project. They should think about an idea they have had either for an invention (product or business service), a song, a book, cartoon, movie, or play script, artwork, computer game, etc. Students might utilize a mash-up/ transformative process for their music or video creative works. Remind them to credit their source for any mash-ups. Students are assigned to promote their idea to the class as a 5 minute presentation. Again, this could be done as a group project or individual one. They must report which type of IP is most likely needed to protect their work. If they are having a mental block and cannot think of ideas, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides "Hatch and Idea" generator database where students may input answers to a few questions to create an idea for their project. Go to then click on the Imagination Machine to get to the Hatch an Idea database.

Discussion topic: Discuss reading the Fine Print of copyright notices on computer game shrink wrap, online databases, movies, music, books, etc. Hold up a popular music CD or blockbuster movie DVD and ask the following: What part of the CD/DVD could be protected by copyright? Answers are not limited to but could include music, lyrics, film script, cover art, photographs, artwork, liner notes, etc. Point out any trademark logos or images too.

Student Show & Tell Assignment: Locate music, movies, books, computer and game software, etc. and look for an example of a copyright (or trademark) notice. If possible, student should bring the original copy of any copyright (or trademark) notices to show the others in the class. If the original copy is not accessible, then a handwritten note with brief description of the item including title, author/artist/producer, copyright, trademark, etc. could be used.

Music Copyright Registration with Copyright Office: Using Billboard’s charts by genre website @ students could find the author/song writer (not necessarily the performer) of their favorite hit song. Then go to the site to look up the author name in the copyright registration database. Have them print out the registration or make notes of the highlights to discuss at the next class. If the class runs out of time, they could show either of their copyright finds at the beginning of the next lesson. See for instruction on how to search the database. If time permits, point out that some popular music artists have registered their professional names as trademarks with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office website. For example, Paul McCartney’s name is registered. To search for today’s popular recording artists, go to Trademark Electronic Search System and utilize the basic search @ TESS.

Intellectual property protection for your creative thinking

Before showing next intellectual property expert film, hold up either a cell phone or MP3 player and discuss how these products have multiple IP associated with them. What types of IP can the students think of related to either of these items? Encourage them to think broadly about everything associated with these items, including copyright of promotional materials and user guides, trademark branding, product function and design patent, etc. Provide the jigsaw matrix handout (found in the Handouts section) on Intellectual Property for individual students to fill in while viewing the film. Students should try to fill in as much information as possible from the following film’s discussion about the various types of Intellectual Property.

Expert Film: Creative Thinking Intellectual Property for Creators - Attorney David Lafkas. This short film is located in the Films section. It is for all young inventors to view. Our guest speaker, David Lafkas, is an intellectual property attorney from Cincinnati that assists inventors, artists, and business people with patents and trademarks.

After showing IP film, students might view's Mary Bellis article Young Inventors - The Value of Intellectual Property for further insight about various types of Intellectual Property to fill in on their jigsaw matrix handout on Intellectual Property. If time does not permit during class, have students view Bellis's article on their own and complete the jigsaw matrix handout as an assignment. Also an informative article in the November 2008 Cincy magazine by Bob Dreihaus entitled Protect Your Property covers various types of intellectual property for entrepreneurs.

Next, demonstrate the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office database located at so the students can see if their inventions or ideas have already been registered by someone else. This provides the student the opportunity to see first-hand how works are protected by intellectual property such as a patent or a trademark. Remember to differentiate between patents and trademarks. Patents include inventions while trademarks are the names of products or services. For those students that have concentrated more on a business or product name, they could do a product or service name Trademark Search. For patent searching, students could do a quick keyword search to demonstrate that another similar idea has been patented. This is an example of prior art which is useful for when an inventor submits their application to the patent office for a patent. Prior art is all information about an invention previously posted for public view. See the USPTO Patent Detective Page @ for simplified searching tips for students. See the 7-Step U.S. Patent Search Strategy for the more advanced students wishing to utilize the U.S. Patent Classification (USPC) System. The USPTO database may also be used to verify if your name for your idea for a new product or service is original or not. The trademark searching database and instructions may be found @ To demonstrate their familiarity with the database and to provide a quick search which reveals if their product or service name is original, they should print out the first page of results from their search to show the class similar names or other names which others have trademarked. If a printer is not available, students could note the other names on a piece of paper. This adds content to their final presentation about their idea. If the students have trouble with the trademark database they might browse the USPTO student page for trademark activities @

Expert Film: Introduction to the Patent System Optional, college level, 17-minute online video tutorial from the Federal Judicial Center that describes the patent process.

Inventor's notebook and other science activities

Inventors are susceptible to getting bad advice on ways to protect their inventions. One of the major pitfalls for both inventors and artists is the old wives tale known as a "poor man’s patent" or "poor man’s copyright." Some are mislead to believe that by sending their idea or intellectual work in a sealed envelope which has been mailed via the postal service back to them is a legal document to protect their intellectual property. As David Lafkas points out in his film above, this provides no protection what so ever for the inventor or artist. For inventors, a low cost alternative to a patent is an inventor’s notebook. Students could create their own inventor’s notebook for their idea assignment in this lesson.

An inventor’s notebook is used by inventors, scientists, and engineers as an official record of their technical work (calculations, experiments, ideas, etc.) it establishes the dates and times when an inventor worked on the development of an invention and shows the progress from conception of an idea through its reduction to practice. The information can improve the outcome of a granted patent or a patent contestation. It’s easy to make an inventor’s notebook. You only need a stitch bound composition notebook with numbered pages and all entries made in ink. Periodically one should have the entries witnessed, signed, and dated by a classmate or friend who has observed and understands the intellectual work noted. See Guidelines For Maintaining An Inventor’s Notebook pdf document in Handouts section. Also see Tamara Monosoff’s related article Keeping An Inventor’s Notebook from Entrepreneur June 12, 2006.

In addition to an inventor's notebook, designing a poster presentation is another research method utilized often for science class projects. This is an opportunity to have students learn how to cite sources from their research for their poster presentation. As Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. outlines, student could also prepare a detailed bibliography for their science research. This could then support their poster presentation. Besides creating a separate bibliography, highlights of the most significant source should be listed on the poster. The bibliography could be part of a preliminary assignment as the students prepare their posters. See Designing Effective Poster Presentation by Traci Gardner for more ideas. Poster sessions could also be applied to other subjects such as literature, history, social studies, music, art, etc.

Curriculum idea builder: Intellectual properties game

Create a game board for Intellectual Properties (similar to Monopoly). Students could assist in designing the game board, tokens, and cards as a class activity. An idea builder game guide is found in our Class Activities section of the Guide for Teachers on this site. Players will roll the dice to determine which space they land on. Each space will either prompt them to move forward or backward, or draw from the “Fair Use,” “Royalties,” or “Plagiarism/Copyright Violation” Decks. The first to get to the finish wins, but they will encounter various intellectual property snags/bonuses along the way. Try working with your students to create an original game board and game cards. Share your ideas with others by reporting to us what you find works best for this class activity.