Q: Can someone else take/steal the idea and patent it themselves once the inventions have been presented?
A: In the United States only an inventor can patent his or her idea. One cannot patent the idea of someone else claiming it is their own. Title 35, United States Code Section 102(f) provides that “[a] personal shall be entitled to a patent unless … he did not himself invent the subject matter sought to be patented…” However, inventions that are not patented often become “discharged” into the public domain for anyone to use. If a contest applicant believes their invention to have commercial value then it would make good sense to consult a patent attorney. As Smith & Hopen is a sponsor and judge of the contest, we cannot assist the participant due to a conflict of interest. However, registered patent attorneys and agents can be found at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Website.
Q: Can kids submit a project together, as a two-person team?
A: Unfortunately no. All submissions must be made individually for the purposes of this contest.
Q: If a child, after submitting the form, transfers schools, will the child still be eligible for the contest?
A: The child must be enrolled or home-schooled within Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Manatee, Sarasota or Polk Counties between the date of the invention submission and February 11. Should the child win their division, the school prize will be awarded to the school they attended at the time of the invention submission.
Q: Can I turn in a previous assignment or science fair experiment?
A: Yes, provided the assignment or science fair experiment is less than one year old.
Q: Where can I drop off or mail my submission?
A: Innovation Express Corporation
c/o USF Young Innovator Competition
180 Pine Avenue North
Oldsmar, Florida 34677
Fax to: 800-807-3531
Email to: email@example.com
Q: Do I need to build a prototype?
A: Prototypes are not necessary for the initial submission. However, finalists are encouraged to build a prototype or presentation to explain their invention to the judging panel.
Q: My big brother helped me invent an improvement to my original design. Can I submit that?
A: You may only submit the material that you alone invented for the purposes of the contest. Your brother (if eligible) may submit only his material (excluding yours).
Q: Will I get a plaque or trophy?
A: Yes, awards will be provided to the ten (10) finalists. All participants will receive a day pass to MOSI.
Q: I am home schooled. Can I participate? Where does the school award go?
A: Home-school children are encouraged to participate and are fully eligible. The school prize goes to the Florida Parent Educator Association.
Q. The lines in the entry form are difficult to write in. What can we do?
A. Staple a separate sheet of lined paper with the student answers. It is important that the student writes out his or her answers. The contest is intended to encourage development of fundamental skills (i.e., handwriting) in addition to creativity and imagination.
Q. So all we have to do is fill out the entry form with detailed invention descriptions before the entry deadline, send it to the address, then come to the finalist selection at USF, and lastly to the finalist competition?
A. Yes and No. The National Academy of Inventors will select the top ten (10) finalists from the submissions. Only those top ten finalists will advance to the presentation competition at USF on February 11th.
Q. Who owns the intellectual property rights to submissions?
A. There is no transfer of intellectual property rights of inventions submitted. Participants continue to “own” their inventions. However, participants do authorize the reproduction of the contest entry forms for promotion of the event and evaluation by judges.
Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that all legitimate questions and answers will be posted here for other contestants to review.