Skip to Main Content

Patents and Trademarks: Teach using Patents

Basic patent resources for general research and design ideas

Related Articles / Resources

Guise-Richardson, Cai.  Using Patents to Teach History.  OAH Magazine of History, July 2010, pp. 45-48

Teaching with Documents: Lession Plans, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Lesson Plans by time period; search the site for patents and find numerous ideas.

MacMillan, Don & Thuna, Mindy.  Patents Under the Microscope: Teaching patent searching to graduate and undergraduate students in the life sciences.  Reference Services Review vol. 38, no. 3: 2012, pp. 417-2010

Teach Using Patents

Patents can be used to Teach a variety of topics.  The following are a sample of ideas:

The History Of...: Teach the history of an area by tracing select patents forward in time, such as the history of flight from the Wright Brothers first glider through time to jet engines; textiles or clothing overtime using the development of Nylon and "pantyhose" as a starting point

Ethics: Patents offer a host of ideas for generating dicussion on ethics:  cloning of animals, patents on human genes, patents on genetically altered lab mice.

Company Research: What patents does a comany or corporate individual hold?  Have the patents changed over time?

Pitch to an Audience of that time:  Give marketing students a challenge.  See how well they can identify a patent's potential target market and pitch to people of that time.

Legalese over time:  Compare similar patents over time to compare language and how it has changed over time.

A Mystery to Solve:  Use a patent as a vehicle for teaching about a particular period in time or a person.  What were the cultural norms of the time?  What was the problem being solved?  Was the item considered a luxury?  What became of the invention?  Who was the inventor?  Did they invent anything else?