The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) today unveiled a new web-based IP Awareness Assessment Tool designed to help manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent inventors easily assess their knowledge of intellectual property (IP).
The press release describes the tool as a way for the creators and consumers of intellectual property to both measure their knowledge relating to IP and create a personalized set of training materials to increase their IP awareness. According to the press release, “users answer a comprehensive set of questions regarding IP, after which the tool provides a set of training resources tailored to specifically identified needs.”
I was intrigued by this tool, so I decided to take the assessment myself. Read on to learn about the testing process for the USPTO’s web-based IP Awareness Assessment Tool!
When you first arrive on the tool homepage, you receive a brief explanation of how the assessment is laid out. Users have the option to either take the full assessment or a customized assessment.
Full Assessment - The full assessment consists of 62 questions and takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. According to the overview on the tool homepage:
The full assessment includes questions in five IP protection categories (Utility Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights, Trade Secrets, and Design Patents) plus five general IP categories- IP Strategies & Best Practices, Using Technology of Others, Licensing Technology to Others, International IP Rights and IP Asset Tracking.
Customized Assessment – Before taking the customized assessment, the user must first take a five-question pre-assessment, which helps the user to identify their “potential IP assets.” The user will then be able to take a 10-30 minute assessment customized to their specific IP needs.
I opted to take the full assessment, which consisted of the ten previously mentioned sections organized into a side menu, with one multiple choice question per page that the user can answer and move to the previous or next question. The side menu highlights the category of questions which you are currently on. You can only navigate back to previous sections you have already answered, where you may change your answers. You can’t skip ahead to sections you have not yet completed.
The questions don’t test your own individual knowledge of intellectual property law and procedures; instead, the questions assess your company’s strategies in managing particular types of intellectual property. For example, under the trademarks section, the tool asks you if you’ve “registered your brand names, slogans, and logos.” the design patent section asks you if you’ve “completed an internal audit of all design elements of your products that might be candidates for design patent protection.” Besides the sections on specific types of IP (trademarks, copyright, design patents, trade secrets, and utility patents), the questionnaire also includes sections on how your company uses the technology of others, licenses technology to others, international IP rights strategies, and how your company tracks IP assets.
After you complete the assessment, you are given an “individualized IP awareness and education material package” which you can save or print. A response is given for every question that you’ve answered (organized into the ten categories previously mentioned), and the responses indicate whether or not your strategies constitute good IP practices. The responses also provide links to further educational resources, often from the USPTO website. The site makes sure to remind users “that any information provided here does not constitute legal advice, but is intended to increase your IP awareness.”
The IP Awareness Tool is an excellent resource for small and large businesses alike to use for evaluating their intellectual property strategies. The tool may help businesses decide whether they need professional intellectual property support services, such as professional patent searches, trademark searches, or patent analysis, in order to have expert knowledge guiding their intellectual property decisions.
Will the IP Awareness Tool be a useful resource for your company? Let us know in the comments!
This post was contributed by Joelle Mornini. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company Landon IP, a major provider of patent searches, trademark searches, technical translations, and information retrieval services.