Cincy is Creative: iMAGINExpo 2014 inspires creators to think about intellectual property rights

COVINGTON, Ky. - Cincinnati and the greater Tri-State region are home to people who excel in artistic and other creative disciplines. Each week, we focus on a creative individual who is bringing new perspectives to our lives and enriching our cultural diversity.

WHO: John Schlipp and Linda Kocis
WHAT: Intellectual property librarians; supporters of creative artists, inventors, and thinkers
WHERE: W. Frank Steely Library, NKU and Main Library, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
LATEST: iMAGiNExpo at Kenton County Public Library, Covington Branch
GREATEST: InventorFest at The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

If you have an idea for a problem-solving invention, you might be able to make some money from that idea. Or, if you have created a book, comic book, script, or song, your work could someday be valuable. But without a fundamental understanding of intellectual property rights, you’re unlikely to reap the full monetary benefits of your creative ideas.

As a creator of intellectual property, you must know how to protect your ideas through copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Likewise, as a consumer of intellectual property in your research, you must avoid infringing on the rights of others.

These themes were discussed at iMAGiNExpo, a free, three-hour seminar presented May 17 at the Covington branch of the Kenton County Public Library. Attendees also heard presentations about the free resources that can help them profit from their creative ideas.

iMAGiNExpo was the brainchild of two intellectual property librarians, John Schlipp of NKU’s Steely Library and Linda Kocis of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. The program brought together educators, students, inventors, entrepreneurs, authors, illustrators, musicians and emphasized people of all ages and can create opportunities for themselves by getting their ideas out into the marketplace.

By reaching out to schools in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, Schlipp and Kocis are expanding upon the popular InventorFest program Schlipp had initiated in 2004 when he worked at the Public Library of Cincinnati. iMAGiNExpo included sessions for students as well as independent inventors and publishers of creative works.

Creativity in the cut and paste era

Educating students about intellectual property matters, says Schlipp, because they have grown up in an era in which it has become routine to cut and paste text, designs, and photos from the Internet. Yet everything that everything is publicly disseminated on the Internet isn’t necessarily in the public domain. And the rules for “fair use” are sometimes open to interpretation.

Plus, colleges are teaching students to be more entrepreneurial and create jobs and opportunities for themselves. This requires thorough research from reliable sources to determine if your ideas are both original and marketable.

Before Schlipp and Kocis gave a 30-minute overview on intellectual property basics, Schlipp honored high school students from Milford High School in Ohio and Cooper High School in Boone County, Kentucky for participating in the “imagine_factory” program that the Intellectual Property Awareness Center at NKU’s Steely Library launched earlier this year. Students were invited to submit creative digital-media presentations that described learning projects related to science, technology, engineering, entrepreneurship, the arts, or math.

  • Emily Marcho of Milford High School gave a presentation about the mechanically self-propelled car she designed.
  • Ivanka Rainer of Cooper High School showed a video she made with Aaron Fox to promote a museum exhibit about the Crimean War.
  • Hannah Rogers, Molly Millinovich, Olivia Nelson, and Savannah Kennedy of Milford High talked about a collaborative Arts and Humanities project they did with residents of the women’s shelter of the Drop-Inn Center.

Other imagine_factory presentations included a grocery store app and recommended improvements to a videogame controller.

When the students submitted the abstract summaries and presentations, the Intellectual Property Awareness Center helped them identify what types of intellectual property might be associated with each of these project.

Later in the afternoon, in the teen-only section of the Kenton County Public Library, Kocis talked to young people about how the history of superhero comics has influenced current thinking about trademarks, copyrights, and the intellectual property of artists and writers.

Business resources for inventors, writers, and creators

The “Creativity and Innovation Expert Panel” discussion brought together experts who can help inventors, makers, and publishers of creative content.

Panelists included:

  • Jackie Diaz, president of the Inventor’s Council of Cincinnati
  • Cynthia M. Cleves, an intellectual property attorney who helps musicians and authors protect their rights
  • Sandra
    • Guile of the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau
    • Rebecca Volpe of the Small Business Development Center at NKU

    “We help people who have an idea figure out if they can make money from that idea,” explained Volpe. She has consulted with everyone from stay-at-home Moms and start-up businesses to established companies who need to reinvent their business models to stay relevant in today’s fast-changing world.

    Cleves pointed out that the Internet has given creative individuals immediate access to worldwide markets. Now that the music and publishing businesses are no longer controlled by a few decision makers, many artists are earning a small living through their works.

    “It also allows people to pursue their dreams on a part-time basis,” she said. “On weekends, people are doing things that they love. It’s a trend that has been very positive.”

    Diaz talked about the Culinique Food Mold pans she invented and licensed and how she benefited from belonging to the Inventor’s Council. She invited inventors to attend their meetings, which are held the first Tuesday of every month (except August) in the Cincinnati Public Library from 7:00 to 8:45 pm.

    Guile noted that the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau works to ensure an ethical business environment for businesses and consumers. She says unethical companies are coming up with a lot of creative ways to take advantage of aspiring inventors and creators.

    Other panelists included:

    • Andrea Brooks, an information literacy expert at the NKU Steely Library
    • Keith Armor of the William Hueneke Homework Center at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
    • Pam Shooner of Dramakinetics
    • Brian Hackett of NKU’s Master’s of Public History Program.

    John Graham, the Adult Services Director of Kenton County Public Library, moderated this discussion.

    The panel members reinforced the fact that successfully bringing new ideas to market does require extensive research and collaboration with partners you can trust. But enterprising inventors don’t have to pay for market research because so much help is freely available through libraries and community groups.

    Volpe said the Small Business Development Center can help individuals and small businesses figure out a clear path for advancing their ideas in the marketplace.

    iMAGiNExpo 2015 in Cincinnati

    Next year, the iMAGiNExpo will be held at the Public Library of CIncinnati and Hamilton County.

    Schlipp plans to continue reaching out to educators and students, giving them an opportunity to get more exposure for their school research projects while making connections with a diverse group of community experts who can help them.

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