Profiles in IP Law

An Interview with Louis J. Foreman

Susan McGahan

©2015. Published in Landslide, Vol. 7, No. 3, January/February 2015, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

Louis J. Foreman is the founder and chief executive of Enventys, an integrated product design and engineering firm. Louis created nine successful start-ups and was responsible for the creation of more than 20 others. He is the inventor on ten registered U.S. patents, and his firm is responsible for the development and filing of well over 600 applications.

Louis is also committed to inspiring others to innovate. He is the creator of the Emmy Award winning PBS television show, Everyday Edisons, and is devoted to educating others on American innovation. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) and is president of the Intellectual Property Owners Educational Foundation (IPOEF). Louis testified before the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on legislation related to the U.S. patent system and its impact on independent inventors, and joined President Obama on stage for the signing of the America Invents Act.

Landslide® magazine spoke with Louis Foreman about the new Girl Scout IP patch program created in collaboration with the IPOEF, United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital (GSCNC) shortly after a group of Girl Scouts in Washington, D.C. earned the very first patch.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with Landslide® magazine. As a current Girl Scout leader in New Jersey for eighth grade Cadettes and registered patent attorney, I am very interested in this IP patch program. How did the collaboration between IPOEF, USPTO, and GSCNC come about?

David Kappos, then Under Secretary and USPTO Director, wanted to bring innovation to a younger female audience, and what better way than to work with the Girl Scouts of America? All three entities’ goal was to create a path that exposed the benefits of science and engineering to young women, so the IPO crafted the curriculum with input from GSCNC to teach and have Girl Scouts of all ages learn about technology through hands-on training. So far, the feedback has been really positive, with Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, a former entrepreneur and excellent role model for young woman, endorsing this program and hoping to see it deployed nationwide. In fact, when the first Girl Scout troop earned the first–ever IP patch, USPTO Deputy Director Michelle Lee, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, and USPTO Commissioner for Patents Peggy Focarino were on hand to distribute the patches.

How can our readers help with the IP Patch program?

Anyone can get involved by volunteering to speak or serve as a mentor at any local Girl Scout troop meeting or Girl Scout event. The GSCNC is interested in having intellectual property professionals share their own stories or own experiences with the patenting process. Such insights would be invaluable to young women in their pursuit to understand and appreciate the intellectual property system. For instance, there are over 90,000 members of the GSCNC in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. What a great opportunity to encouraging girls, early on in their studies, to enter or at least be exposed to STEM (being the current shorthand for “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics”) fields, and be familiar with the patent process and the rewards afforded true inventions. To learn more about this program, please contact our office at 202-507-4500 or foundation@ipo.org.

Who can earn the IP patch, and what types of patches are available?

I understand that the following types of patches are available to girl scouts as young as seven years old:

  • Brownies (2nd-3rd grade): Imagination Pioneer patch. Girls learn how to protect and share the products made while earning the inventor badge;
  • Juniors (4th-5th grade): Inventive Products patch. Girls learn basic concepts of intellectual property protection and how it protects owners and inspires others to invent, as well as how to protect the products made while earning the product designer badge;
  • Cadettes (6th-8th grade): Investigating Possibilities patch. Girls understand the role of intellectual property in protecting and adding value to the businesses they envisioned in the entrepreneur badge; and
  • Seniors (9th-10th grade): Inspiration Producers patch. After learning how to identify a social problem and develop a great solution, girls are empowered to share their knowledge of intellectual property with other girls.

Do you think there is a crisis with women entering into science or technology fields?

It’s no secret that women and minorities are significantly underrepresented in the STEM fields. Although women make up about half of the American workforce, they represent less than one-quarter of those employed in STEM fields, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Studies show there may be a bias against women in the sciences. Only one-fifth of physics Ph.D.s in this country are awarded to women, and only about half of those women are American; of all the physics professors in the United States, only 14 percent are women. It is the goal of this IP patch program to draw young women into the STEM fields and provide them opportunities in high-tech fields, which can offer so much in the way of job prospects, prestige, intellectual stimulation, and income.

What is the goal of this program going forward?

The goal is, as previously mentioned, to inspire girls to look to a career in math and science and not fall victim to lack of self-esteem, misperceptions as to who does or doesn’t go on in science, or inaccurate assessments of their talents. Whether from their GS troop, parents, mentors, or teachers, young girls need encouragement and to know that it is cool to be smart.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I would like to thank all those involved in this collaboration—whether volunteers at IPOEF, employees at USPTO, or the myriad volunteers at GSCNC and other GS troops. I hope the IP patch will continue to grow nationwide, beyond the D.C. and Texas districts, and that girls see this as a stepping stone to a career in math or science. Just recently, a Girl Scout troop in Texas hosted a day-long IP workshop to help over 125 girls of all ages earn the IP Patch and more than 45 volunteers participated.

Susan McGahan

Susan McGahan is a general attorney at AT&T in Bedminster, New Jersey, handling all types of IP matters for AT&T, including transactional work, assertion, licensing, patent sales, litigation, trademark enforcement, and big data issues. She is also a Girl Scout leader of eighth grade Cadettes at Assumption School in Morristown, New Jersey.