Until 2016, Japan was No. 2 in international patent applications, after the U.S. Now China holds that spot.

This has Japanese policymakers and other parties fretting. Curriculum guidelines were revised in March 2017, calling on elementary and junior high schools to voluntarily begin intellectual property education in the 2018 academic year, which began in April.

Beginning with the 2020 school year, elementary school textbooks will devote more space to intellectual property matters. Junior high school textbooks will follow a year later.

One lesson could be on how to legally quote or sample copyrighted works. Another could be to let children think about how to improve everyday objects.

In a similar initiative, the Japan Patent Office on April 18 launched the mangalike JPO Kids Page, a website designed to convince children that inventing stuff is fun.

One page is dedicated to simple questions and answers, such as “What is a patent?” Another page offers information on how inventions have come about.

JPO Kids Page is expected to be used at schools and homes and can be downloaded for free in the form of an e-book.

Source: Nikkei

Image: Hitomi Hirabayashi obtained a patent for a bicycle parking system when she was in the fifth grade.

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