World Intellectual Property Organization

Learn from the Past, Create the Future: New WIPO series for young people

May 2005


Inventions and Patents” is a WIPO publication with a difference. Due out in the summer of 2005, it is the first in a new series of publications about intellectual property (IP) aimed at school children as the creators of our future. The publication marks a significant new effort by the Organization – in response to numerous requests from Member States – to provide practical and detailed IP curriculum materials for use in classrooms around the world.

Combining fun with facts, and packed with examples, the publication takes its young readers on a colorful journey through the world of inventions and patents. Easy-to-follow explanations of how patents work, why we need them, and how they contribute to scientific and technological progress are interspersed with the stories behind successful inventions, and young inventors who have patented and commercialized their ideas. Inventor Profiles are drawn from around the world, and teachers are encouraged to supplement these by getting their students to research inventions from their home country.

“Young people are our future,” said WIPO Deputy Director General Rita Hayes. “They are the creators – and the consumers – of tomorrow. Developing a sustainable IP culture must include providing them with positive and informative messages about IP. This new series is a step in that direction.”

Geared towards students from 8 to 14 years old, the publication takes the form of a self-contained workbook, which can be freely photocopied for classroom use. Taking a hands-on approach, it teaches the theoretical through the practical, and IP concepts through case studies. To play the PCT Detective game, for example, students learn to search WIPO’s online PCT database for patent applications corresponding to a given description. “Think about it” boxes pose questions to provoke individual reflection and classroom debate.

Much of the material can be integrated into science classes. Teachers can build on the information provided by discussing with students the scientific principles behind some of the featured inventions, such as the combination of concave and convex lenses in the telescope, or the laws of thermodynamics in the Nigerian “pot-in-pot” cooling system.

“Inventions and Patents” debunks the fictional stereotypes of inventors as wild-eyed – and wilder haired – professors, and encourages students to recognize in themselves the essential qualities of curiosity, creativity and perseverance, which enable individuals to invent. It concludes with a roadmap for invention, taking students through the whole innovation process from idea, to IP protection, to commercialization.

The series is designed to respond to increasingly frequent requests from WIPO Member States and other groups for information products and educational material for younger audiences. WIPO currently plans three further volumes, to cover the topics of copyright, trademarks and industrial designs.

Explore WIPO