I've created a new teaching method.

My research, back to 1922, has not found any other instance of it in history.

Yes, there are elements, names, that could be protected but of course that will not protect the method.

My method does not involve math but I'll use Common Core mathematics as a similar situation. Does someone own the common core teaching method?

  • No, no one owns common core. Its just a way of explaining math. Is your idea something new or just something you said in a different way? – Putvi Apr 29 '19 at 17:09
  • Got it. Thank you. (isn't saying something in a different way 'new'?) – Randy Zeitman Apr 29 '19 at 17:23
  • It's a new way of saying it, but to patent something you need to make something new. If I use diff words to explain something I still didn't invent that something and can't patent it. – Putvi Apr 29 '19 at 17:32
  • You could copyright the book if you wrote a book or made a video. – Putvi Apr 29 '19 at 17:46
  • What's the value of writing a book or making a video. Can't someone else simply write their own book, make a video, a seminar, whatever they like? – Randy Zeitman Apr 29 '19 at 18:42

A particular text or video could be copyrighted, and that would mean that other texts could not be directly based on the copyrighted text. But copyright would not protect the ideas and concepts, nor the teaching methods.

One can trademark the name of the method, so that others could not use it in advertising their own versions. One can create and administer a certification, so that only those going though "authorized" training can get the certificate. If third parties adopt and expect that certificate, it will tend to lock in the version of the training tied to the certificate. SCRUM, inc does something of the sort.

I suppose that if it were adult instruction one could make everyone involved sign an NDA, and treat the methods as trade secrets. But that would be cumbersome, and perhaps offsetting to potential clients. And if a trade secret get out, it loses protection.

I don't know if process patent protection could be applied to a teaching method -- I have never heard of it being done.

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  • You can't really do the trade secrets part. – Putvi Apr 29 '19 at 18:11
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    @Putvi trade secret protection would be cumbersome, and probably unwise, but why do you think it couldn't be done at all? – David Siegel Apr 29 '19 at 18:13
  • It would be considered to be speech about something already invented (the math). It would fall under the same reasons you can't make a shortcut for solving an equation a secret. A it exists naturally and you are describing it, B. you didn't invest the math. – Putvi Apr 29 '19 at 18:16
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    @Putvi I think you are mistaken, but the scope of trade secret protection is really a separate question. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) Sec 1.4 says as "'Trade secret' means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process..." which has economic value and is kept secret. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Trade_Secrets_Act Adoptiion of this Uniform Act varies by state in the US, . – David Siegel Apr 29 '19 at 18:37
  • Thats true, but that would not fit under that. – Putvi Apr 29 '19 at 18:37

Most ideas about improved teaching methods might be found to be old, or abstract. However, there certainly have been patents on teaching methods. Method for teaching economics, management and accounting US 6375466 is one example. Interactive method and system for teaching decision making US6971881 is another. Anton Scalia humorously (he thought) asked in oral arguments if he could patent a method of keeping students awake in a constitutional law class. What he and the courtroom laughter missed was this would only be a preamble of a patent claim. The preamble of a method claim only states the result not the means for getting to the result. What would the steps be? If it is talking loudly or making jokes every 5.5 minutes, I do not think you would get a patent. If it involved electrification of the student's desk, it might well get a patent.

Note - stackexchange has a site called Ask Patents where one can often get better answers to patent questions than on law.

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