Entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators can be faced with an overwhelming amount of information and guidance when they plan their business startup. One area that is often neglected is the business’s intellectual property. In fact, it is critical to attend to the protection of IP early in the startup process. Entrepreneurs and others need to know what to protect, as well as when and how to protect it.

In the United States, IP accounts for thirty-eight percent of Gross Domestic Product, while IP and other intangible assets make up ninety percent of the market value of all S&P 500 companies. Increasingly, IP is arguably “the chief engine of wealth creation and economic growth in the world.” However, few people have exposure to a formal IP education. It is therefore vital that IP education be infused into educational curricula as widely as possible. If not, “any young person today who does not understand at least the basics of intellectual property—and its value and role in science, business, arts, and the professions—will find him or herself at a distinct disadvantage in the world of tomorrow.”

In an effort to close this “IP education gap,” national organizations, such as the Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship are working to support educators to infuse IP education into a broad range of educational curricula. Two authors of this Article, Professors Diane Sabato and John Diffley of Springfield Technical Community College, are currently serving as Michelson IP Educators in Residence and working to bring IP education to community college students through business, honors, and history courses. Additionally, and as part of the IP EIR Program, Professors Sabato and Diffley partnered with a leading IP law practitioner, and this Article’s third author, Attorney Richard H. Kosakowski, to bring his significant expertise to community college audiences.

In this Article, the authors will discuss the importance of IP to economic growth in general and in the context of U.S. history. The authors then discuss why IP education and knowledge are more important than ever for entrepreneurs, inventors, and innovators. The history and current state of IP education are examined, as are current efforts to infuse IP education into the community college education. Finally, Attorney Kosakowski discusses his experiences with IP law and offers best practices for protecting one’s IP.