On Friday, August 16, Jesse Fenty of Endless IP visited Tracye Johnson and The Stream Innovation Entrepreneurship camp (www.thestreaminnovation.com) to teach her students about fundamentals in Intellectual Property. Using a basic “Find the Difference” activity, Jesse explained to the students that one key skill used by Intellectual Property attorneys is to find differences between current ideas and past ideas. If a present idea has enough differences from what has been done before, then an inventor or businessperson may be entitled to obtain a Patent or Trademark for an idea or brand name.
In the Entrepreneurship camp the students are designing a product having various features and a unique brand name. Using the lessons learned, Jesse showed the students different products similar to theirs that were presently on the market and ones that had received patents. A preliminary Trademark search uncovered that their chosen name might not receive government protection, so students brainstormed for a new unique name. The patent analysis would take more time. The students were also instructed that new inventions must be fully described in terms of how they are made or used. Simply having an idea is not enough.
Also, using the classic Traffic Light patent by legendary inventor Garrett Morgan, Jesse explained to the students that sometimes a small change in technology using just a few words can make a huge difference.
In U.S. Patent Number 1,475,024 Garret Morgan inserted the words “a lamp” into his mechanical traffic light system, thus allowing the traffic light to be used at night. Electricity was new and cars were new. Garrett Morgan took advantage of emerging technologies to produce an invention that would be needed for the future. In 1923 he was one of the first inventors to patent an electric traffic light, and General Electric subsequently bought his patent for $40,000.