Making Innovation Fun and Faire
Do you consider yourself a creator, inventor, tinkerer, or crafter? Do you enjoy learning about new technologies and watching creativity and ingenuity come to life? Maybe you just want to be “wowed” by something new and different? If you answered yes to any of these questions, a trip to a Maker Faire might be right for you. Launched in 2006 in the San Francisco Bay Area, Maker Faires now take place around the world. These gatherings have been described as “part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new,” and draw attendees from all walks of life, including engineers, scientists, authors, artists, and hobbyists.
A Maker Faire is a family event, but what exactly occurs there? There isn’t a specific answer, and that’s what makes it so fun. Lasting either one or two days in length, a Faire is abuzz with creativity and alive with the sights and sounds of an amusement park. From traditional science and technology to fields as diverse as cooking and storytelling, a Maker Faire provides exhibitors a forum to display their innovations across all areas of human endeavor. Imagine one-person cupcake cars, fire-breathing mechanical dragons, and a life-size version of the game Mouse Trap: these are just a few of the things one might encounter at a Maker Faire. The creators and inventors of these and many other Maker Faire curiosities are bound together by both a love of learning and a desire to share their knowledge and expertise.
Maker Faires embrace a do-it-yourself spirit and provide encouragement and an outlet for entrepreneurs and hobbyists to innovate, create, and ultimately generate value in communities through the creation of businesses and new products. For many of these makers, intellectual property (IP) is—or will be—a vital part of their creative endeavors.
United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) representatives have participated in U.S. Maker Faires for years. These are opportunities to provide IP education to exhibitors and attendees who are creating, inventing, and innovating every day but who may not know if what they are creating can be protected. The USPTO distributes printed materials and online resources while providing one-on-one assistance to visitors to the USPTO Maker Faire booth. Whether it’s a catchy trademark on a hot new game or patenting a unique way to convert solar energy, the USPTO encourages makers to continue creating while reaping the rewards of their ingenuity. During the past two years, the USPTO has partnered with BusinessUSA to provide even more information to Faire attendees. BusinessUSA is a centralized, one-stop, online platform to connect businesses with access to government services to help them compete, grow, and hire. The USPTO and BusinessUSA have co-hosted booths at San Francisco Bay Area, Detroit, and New York Faires.
The USPTO was proud to participate in this year’s Detroit Maker Faire held on July 27-28, and we’ll be at the upcoming Mini Maker Faire in Silver Spring, Md., on September 29. We invite Inventors Eye readers to check out the Maryland Faire and say hello at the USPTO booth. We look forward to answering your questions, talking about all things innovation-related, and seeing some amazing inventions!