By Rachelle Mulumba

Quotes in the article have been lightly edited and paraphrased for clarity.

“I remember during my first semester teaching, a student came up to me and he had designed this beautiful logo. He asked me, ‘Can you show me the ropes? How do I protect this because somehow I feel like somebody may steal it.’ Yet with an MBA behind me and experience of 25 years working in marketing, I really had no clue.”

Unfortunately, the anecdote that Glendale Community College professor Rafael Cardona expressed at the recent annual CIPU Intellectual Property Awareness Summit at Northeastern University is not uncommon. Industry experience in the realm of business oftentimes does not come with intellectual property knowledge, as that is usually left to General Counsels and other in-house legal experts. Thankfully for Cardona, the opportunity to integrate IP into his curriculum came about when he was asked to take part in a Michelson IP and National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) pilot program.


Applying the Curriculum


“They have a series of videos that break down the subject into clips of 5 minutes by each individual IP area and a book [that expands on the concepts]”, Cardona explained to the audience and his fellow panelists, “[with that knowledge] my students have to write a marketing plan and as part of the process of passing my course must also introduce a new product line and what type of IP protection would they seek to protect this product as well as how they would go about doing so.”

Cardona, while having known little about intellectual property before, now successfully integrating the subject matter into his classroom perfectly encapsulates why Michelson IP’s resources are at the core of its mission to spread IP awareness and ensure equitable knowledge of IP rights. It’s also why partnerships at the community college level such as that with NACCE are important. The aforementioned pilot program and subsequent initiatives with the organization resulted in the adoption of Michelson IP curricula at more than 80 NACCE member schools nationwide as of the end of last year.

The first of its kind, faculty focused communities of practice program IP Educator in Residence Initiative was also instrumental in advancing IP literacy efforts across the NACCE ecosystem at community colleges across the country. This initiative culminated in participating faculty and Michelson IP collaborating to develop IPxEd 101: A Guide for Teaching Intellectual Property For Innovative Educators. This guide acts as a resource for fellow educators at community colleges looking to be champions for intellectual property in curricula in their classrooms.


Students Using IP in the Real World


However, Michelson IP’s resources are not only meant to impact educators. Cardona’s testimonial also revealed how IP educational content has sparked positive change for his students directly.

“There’s Anna Hernandez. A 19 year old student of mine, Hispanic American. When we talk about multiculturalism and some of our demographics at the community college level not knowing what IP is, she’s a prime example. She applied for a very prestigious marketing internship with the NASDAQ Entrepreneurial center in San Francisco. They only select maybe two or three students per college”, Cardona explained, “She called me up [after her interview] and said ‘you know they asked me if I knew anything about IP’ and she told them that she had because of my class and the teachings. Lo behold, she got in and not only did they have her do marketing but they also started to teach her hands on IP work”. 

Ms. Hernandez would go on to gain IP skills in not only reading patents but getting hands-on experience filing them in the U.S and abroad. Even for students further along in their inventions and creations, the impact of coming across resources like Michelson IP’s curriculum in the classroom can be immense. 

“Recently I had another gentleman, Andrew, an older student of mine…he’s starting a software company. He told me that the intellectual property teachings from the course allowed him to do two things: one, to appreciate what to do with his designs because he designed algorithms that allow him to operate a specific type of software and two, realize he needed to protect this model. He’s on his way to hiring an attorney to move forward in the process.”


Inspiring IP Education Ambassadors


Cardona, seeing success stories like this first hand, has been inspired by the power of IP education to transform the career trajectory of learners and is now an advocate for bringing the subject matter to classrooms everywhere: “One thing that comes to my mind right away is to appeal to all of you to reach out to me if you have any ideas on how our students can get hands-on experience with learning IP because teaching the theory is one thing but getting them to do things like Anna or Andrew did as a result of my courses is a whole different game. Second and most exciting to me, is that I’ll be part of an online college where students from anywhere in the world can take my class. This gives me the opportunity to propagate the message of IP education.”

Michelson IP is proud to have another beacon of light in its network like Cardona, shining brightly with the aim to serve all learners especially those of historically marginalized communities. Day by day, it is educators like him who power this movement for equitable intellectual property awareness.

View the panel session here.



The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, provides access to empowering IP education for budding inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit