The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the federal agency responsible for issuing patents and registering trademarks. The agency also advises the Secretary of Commerce and the President of the United States on intellectual property (IP) policy. The USPTO develops and implements education and outreach programs dedicated to promoting awareness of IP, including awareness of the creation of IP as well as the enforcement of IP rights at all levels. The Office of Education (OE), which resides within the Office of the Chief Communications Officer of the USPTO, has a mission to increase IP awareness and knowledge through education, outreach, and collaboration with internal and external stakeholders. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) play a significant role in the USPTO’s K‐12 education and outreach programming because STEM is vital to invention, innovation, and the development of a future USPTO workforce. Integration of STEM knowledge, especially as it relates to IP, is also vital to the development of a future stakeholder base for the USPTO, i.e., inventors, innovators, and creators who will file better and higher quality patent and trademark applications based on their attained knowledge of IP. The programs are unique and designed to strategically reach a broad cross section of the population, including women and under‐represented and traditionally underserved groups.
OE's goals and objectives are aligned to support government‐wide efforts to attract and retain students (K‐12) in STEM‐based education in order to increase STEM competence and support an internal and external stakeholder base for the USPTO. We achieve our goals by building and expanding strategic partnerships, collaborations, and linkages with other federal agencies, non‐profit organizations, and, where possible, private sector organizations, in order to reach the most diverse group of students and educators.
OE program descriptions
The project is a 17‐part video series and accompanying curriculum created through a joint partnership between the USPTO and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The series was produced by NBC Learn. The focus of the materials is on the interrelation between IP and STEM. The stories are told through the eyes of scientists and engineers funded by NSF who have used patents and trademarks to protect and advance their work.
Intellectual Property and STEM Teacher Professional Development Workshops
The IP‐STEM workshops provide K‐12 teachers and administrators with strategies to connect students to real world experiences involving IP and the process of invention and creativity in STEM fields. The workshops highlight inventor stories and are designed to cover a broad range of IP topics in order to help educators connect IP and STEM using project‐based learning.
Summer/Afterschool Teachers Institutes
In 2014, the USPTO conducted the inaugural National Summer Teacher Institute (NSTI) on Innovation, STEM, and Intellectual Property. The focus of the NSTI is to help teachers incorporate making, inventing, and intellectual property creation and protection to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.
The USPTO inventor collectible card series is designed to highlight a variety of inventors, including distinguished individuals who have been inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, Nobel Prize recipients, Franklin Fellows, and historical or culturally relevant individuals who have received U.S. patents.
USPTO Employee Classroom‐Outreach Programs
The USPTO works with its professional and volunteer employee organizations agency-wide to expand the outreach of educational programs, such as Raising Excitement for Science, Engineering, and Technology (RESET) and Kids & Chemistry. These programs provide volunteers with an opportunity to visit schools and work directly with students and teachers to introduce them to the role of invention, innovation, and IP as it relates to STEM subjects. Volunteers engage students through a wide range of interactive, hands-on activities that bring together learning about STEM and the concepts of invention, innovation, and intellectual property. The USPTO also works with USPTO groups to develop and provide unique learning opportunities and experiences at the USPTO for incorporation into programs such as National Engineers Week and Noche de Ciencias/Night of Science programs.
FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) Global Innovation Award
The USPTO collaborates with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST®) on its annual invention competition designed to encourage FLL participants to take their invention ideas to the next level. The USPTO works in collaboration with FIRST® to increase student knowledge and 21st century skills in problem solving, team building, and presentation.