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Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunt #1: Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights Answers

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1. Receiving a patent for your invention allows you to have the right to make, sell, import an invention for up to ____ years.

The answer is: 20 years 

2.What are the 3 types of patents awarded by the U.S. Patent Office?

a. ______________ b. ______________ c. ______________

The answer is: Design, Utility, Plant

The Patent Office pages provide much information about the actual application process as well as the types of patents. Their home page is located at This source discusses the differences between design and utility patents and the elements needed to file a design patent application which might be helpful for going into more depth about the patent process. Links to other areas of the patent application are located on this page.

3. What is the difference between an utility patent and a design patent? Explain in complete sentences.

The answer is: A utility patent covers the useful processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter. Examples: fiber optics, computer hardware, medications.

The look of an athletic or basketball shoe, a bicycle helmet, and the Pokemon characters are all protected by design patents.

Give an example (name and type of product) of something that received an utility patent and a design patent.

Utility: ______________________________________

Design: ______________________________________

4. A copyright is different from a patent because it registers things that have been authored such as works of art, music and things which have been written. Where would you find copyrights registered? How long does a copyright last?

The answer is: Copyrights are registered in The Library of Congress. A copyright lasts the author's life time plus 70 years.

Examples of items that are copyrighted are: Gone With The Wind (the book and film), Back Street Boys' recordings, and video games

5. What do we call the type of protection used by businesses and organizations which protects words, names, symbols, sounds, or colors that distinguish goods and services?

The answer is: Trademarks. Trademarks can be renewed forever as long as they are being used in business. Patents are only granted for 20 years. Things that would qualify for a trademark include sounds such as the roar of the MGM lion, the pink color of the insulation made by Owens-Corning (who uses the Pink Panther in advertising by permission from its owner!), and the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle.

IDEA: Create a class list of "famous" trademarks. Challenge students to list as many as they think may qualify and then discuss their findings as each offers a trademarked item to add to the list. Or, take all of the suggestions, plus a few of your own (some of which are not trademark items) and challenge them to circle those that they think are or would qualify to be trademarked. 

6. About how long has the patent process operated in the United States to protect inventors?

The answer is: 200 years

IDEA: Use this question as a jumping off point for a discussion about why the patent process is an important one and how it contributes to the economy of our industrial nation.

In the introduction of the Patent Office web pages they state the following: "For over 200 years, the basic role of the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has remained the same: to promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries (Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution). Under this system of protection, American industry has flourished. New products have been invented, new uses for old ones discovered, and employment opportunities created for millions of Americans. The PTO is a noncommercial federal entity and one of 14 bureaus in the Department of Commerce (DOC). The office occupies a combined total of over 1,400,000 square feet, in numerous buildings in Arlington, Virginia. The office employs over 5,000 full time equivalent (FTE) staff to support its major functions--- the examination and issuance of patents and the examination and registration of trademarks. The PTO has evolved into a unique government agency. Since 1991-- under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1990-- the PTO has operated in much the same way as a private business, providing valued products and services to our customers in exchange for fees which are used to fully fund our operations. The primary services we provide include processing patents and trademarks and disseminating patent and trademark information."

7. Where is the US Patent Office located?

The answer is:There is only one Patent Office, and it is located in Arlington, Virginia, which is just outside of Washington, DC.

8. What type of patent did Fred Frick receive for his Electric Program Clock? (Utility, Design or Patent)

The answer is: Utility Patent

9. Are Frick's patents still protecting his invention today? ____________

The answer is: No, patents only protect your rights for 20 years. Frick's patents were granted in 1895.

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Carla Schutte, Mike Lipinski, Susan Silverman
Gail Watson, Tammy Payton
March 2000