IP Resources for Educators and Youth

Educators and youth can help reduce the growing prevalence of copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting, in both the online and hard goods environments, by learning about intellectual property (IP) rights and spreading the word that respecting intellectual property rights is in everyone’s interest. There are lots of great materials to get you started.

The State Department has a site that explains what intellectual property is and why respecting intellectual property is important to the U.S. economy.  It also shows exciting IP-related public awareness campaigns by U.S. embassies worldwide under “embassies in action.”

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has a Youth Focused webpage that includes interactive games and information targeting children in grades kindergarten-six, seven-twelve, and teacher/parents and coaches. And it’s always a good practice to check the terms of usage when you visit a website. That’s where you will find the site’s policies concerning copyright, reproduction of material and other important information. For example, click here to see the Terms of Use for the USPTO website below.

The U.S. Copyright Office has lots of materials to teach students about copyright, including a video aimed at grammar school students.

The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) hosts a comprehensive, research-based public awareness campaign against intellectual property (IP) theft.

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) produces comic books explaining what patents, copyrights and trademarks are and how they are useful to ensure that inventors, artists, and brand-owners receive payment for their work. WIPO produces workbooks and a class curriculum on intellectual property rights appropriate for students, ages 9-14. It has also produced a manga (Japanese comic book) to explain the health and safety risks of counterfeit products to young consumers. See WIPO’s free publications for students and educators and a video (transcript) explaining copyrights. Also available is a four part cartoon series explaining inventions and trademarks. Please note, in an effort to promote innovation and creativity for the economic, social and cultural development of all countries, through a balanced and effective international intellectual property system, WIPO authorizes users to download, use or reproduce any information presented on its website for educational and dissemination purposes, subject to any specific terms of use that might appear with such information, provided that the use of such information is accompanied by an acknowledgement that WIPO is the source.

The Global Intellectual Property Center, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has supported educational campaigns showing youth how IP is used throughout a kitchen (click here for pdf version) and many interesting documentaries including a campaign alerting consumers to dangerous fakes.

Honor Codes and Intellectual Property

Many U.S. schools and universities have honor codes that increasingly include explicit reference to intellectual property. Educators and students may wish to consider adding intellectual property to their school’s honor code.

The School for Ethical Education (SEE) has an honor policy that is an adapted synthesis of policies from websites or handbooks of twelve high schools; it addresses plagiarism and intellectual property on pages 12-17 of the hyperlinked document.

George Mason University’s honor code includes an explanation of plagiarism, copyright and the internet.

In 2011, the U.S. Air Force Academy added a section on intellectual property rights to its Honor Code - Appendix B (page 19 of the document).

Links for University Students

One of the keys to successfully protecting intellectual property is knowledge about intellectual property -- what it is, who owns it, how it is protected, and how it should be protected in various settings. With respect to university settings, the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) (Pub. L. No. 110-315) requires schools to take certain steps to implement a copyright policy. Following are links to IP policies in a college setting and a research lab. The papers clearly define roles and responsibilities and establish procedures for defining ownership of IP when that ownership is not immediately clear.

Carnegie Mellon has a good description and an example of implementation of HEOA.

See a sample IP policy and contract language from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Bowdoin College’s IP policies appear in its student handbook.

A paper on IP targeting graduate students doing research in laboratories, posted by the Online Ethics Center (OEC), which is maintained by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), helps research students understand their responsibilities with regard to IP.

The U.S. Department of State does not specifically endorse organizations, associations, or businesses. Any and all links to websites outside the U.S. Government are strictly for information purposes only.