Q: How has the U.S. patent system contributed to American prosperity?

A: The genius of America’s system of free enterprise rewards risk-taking. The nation’s founders embraced the power of ingenuity, innovation, invention and investment to drive progress, opportunity and prosperity. The architects of the Constitution engineered a framework to “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” Soon after, Congress enacted the Patent Act and George Washington signed the first patent on July 31, 1790. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has legislative and oversight jurisdiction over the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), I work to uphold intellectual property rights and protect trade secrets that help start-ups open for business and thrive in the marketplace, attract investors and strengthen the integrity of the U.S. patent system. Recently, the USPTO issued its 10 millionth patent to an American inventor for laser detection technology. By encouraging inventors and thinkers to dream big, the patent system provides the incentive to innovate, create and invest. This foundation has allowed America to nurture innovators to cultivate a big idea into the next big thing. From mouse traps to light bulbs, genetically engineered seeds and next-generation renewable energy, the sky’s the limit. For generations, intellectual property rights have empowered human discovery to unlock scientific advances and artistic invention and innovation in agriculture, energy, engineering, medicine, information technology, communications, transportation and more. The constitutional principles enshrined in our nation’s founding charter have provided the catalyst for human advancement and productivity. Whereas the nation’s founders may not have imagined what American society would look like in the 21st century or fathom the existence of artificial intelligence and big data analytics, they had the inestimable foresight to create the blueprint to harness brain power for the public good and long-term prosperity. For generations, America’s winning formula combines sweat equity, brain equity and financial equity to drive job creation and economic growth. Enforcing effective intellectual property policies in the global marketplace help make our local communities safer and stronger by allowing innovators and entrepreneurs to raise capital, build their businesses, hire workers and bring products and services to market. From unlocking life-saving treatments and cures to saving billions of people from starvation, harnessing renewable energy, conserving natural resources, and improving water, air and soil quality, the horizon for innovation and prosperity in America beckons the next generation to reach the next frontier of intellectual and scientific discovery.

Q:  What workshops are available this summer for Iowa educators focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education?

A: This summer educators may take advantage of a professional development workshop regarding intellectual property and entrepreneurship for teachers right here in Iowa. In partnership with business and industry and the USPTO, the University of Iowa (UI) is offering a three-day STEM Innovator education camp, July 23-26, 2018 at the University of Iowa. The STEM Innovator program is a collaborative effort of the UI College of Education and the UI’s Jacobson Institute for Youth Entrepreneurship, a division of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center. It facilitates training opportunities for teachers and administrators to bring hands-on innovation, invention and entrepreneurship lessons to their classrooms. The curriculum is designed to develop an entrepreneurial mindset that encourages students to work in teams and solve community-driven, real-world problems. The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center is one of five entrepreneurial centers established in 1996 in Iowa through the generosity of philanthropists John and Mary Pappajohn. In the last two decades, these centers have supported hundreds of thousands of individuals, launched more than 6,000 businesses and created nearly 12, 000 jobs. For more information and to register, go to https://steminnovator.org/teacher-education/. The USPTO partners with universities and local organizations to provide training and resources for educators and students across the country to fuel interest in STEM education and careers. The University of Iowa also will participate in the USPTO’s 5th Annual National Summer Teachers Institute, July 30 – Aug. 3, 2018, in Tampa, Fla.  For more information on this program and other USPTO resources, visit https://www.uspto.gov/kids/. In 2016, I invited then-USTPO director Michelle Lee to join me and then-Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds in Bettendorf to promote innovation and STEM careers with local students. I’ll continue working to encourage young people to focus on STEM and foster intellectual property policies that help the next generation thrive in the 21st century economy.