Wichita, KS

Wichita State University

Nan Myers and I, Sara Butts, are the representatives of the Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) at Wichita State University’s Ablah Library, located on the main campus of the university. The library has been a PTRC, originally a Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL), since 1991. Myers is an Associate Professor Emeritus and has been working with patents, trademarks, and government documents for over 20 years. She now works part-time and meets with patrons by appointment. I joined the PTRC in November 2015 as a full-time staff member and also the library’s government documents librarian.

Patent and trademark reference consultations generally take place in the learning center, a meeting space surrounded by glass windows on the first floor. The space is large enough for a group consultation and a designated computer allows for patent and trademark search training, as well as access to PubEAST and PubWEST.

I attended the PTRC Training Seminar for the first time in 2016. Inspired by other PTRC representatives who offered regular patent search training workshops, I discussed the idea of offering similar workshos at our library with my colleague Nan Myers. Interim Associate Dean Cathy Moore-Jansen suggested partnering with our business liaison librarian Meghann Kuhlmann and offering intellectual property and business research topics in a series of workshops under the umbrella of entrepreneurship. I taught a patent and trademark searching basics workshop in April and in the Fall of 2016, we launched the Entrepreneurship Research Series, a series of workshops on topics of intellectual property (such as an overview of intellectual property and patent and trademark searching) as well as business topics (such as market research) in an effort to reach Wichita’s growing start-up community and the innovative students, faculty, and staff of WSU. To complement the workshop series, Kuhlmann and I put together an Entrepreneurship display in the large display case on the first floor of the library featuring business and intellectual property books, ebooks, databases, and information about our workshop series. Throughout the workshop series, we presented a total of six workshops in the Fall, reaching a total of 46 attendees.

The workshop series is now in its second semester, with eleven workshops being offered. Engineering liaison librarian Aaron Bowen will join us in giving presentations this semester, along with guest presenters Gary Stecklein (President of the Inventors Association of South Central Kansas (IASCK)), Crissa Cook (Patent Attorney at Hovey-Williams in Kansas City), and Becky Hundley (Director of Intellectual Property/Research Compliance at WSU Ventures, the university’s technology transfer office).

In addition to the workshop series, I have been invited to teach patent searching techniques as part of Bowen’s bibliographic instruction sessions to nearly 100 first-year Engineering students, many of whom competed in the inaugural Koch Innovation Challenge. Myers and I also provide patent and trademark search training to graduate assistant students working for the technology transfer office as the educational component of an Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant with WSU Ventures. These students reach out to both of us for advice on identifying key words and classifications for patent searches.

Myers, Kuhlmann, and I have taken part in a variety of outreach opportunities such as the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Road Tour that came to WSU in June 2016, partnering with the Denver USPTO at the Mini Maker Faire at Wichita’s Exploration Place in July 2016, partnering with WSU Ventures to host the Rocky Mountain Regional Office’s Trademark Tuesday in 2016 and 2017, and more. Recently, we were able to provide one-on-one meetings, information about intellectual property and our PTRC at an SBIR/STTR Proposal Preparation Workshop event hosted by WSU Ventures (picture below). Getting involved in our community helps us to reach more inventors and market our PTRC services and workshops. We also attend events such as WSU’s Shocker New Venture Competition, 1 Million Cups (where entrepreneurs present their businesses and gain community support), IASCK meetings, Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC) consortium meetings, etc.

While most patrons come from Wichita and surrounding communities, others are burgeoning entrepreneurs from WSU’s student body, from a variety of subject disciplines. When we meet with patrons, the future of the invention or business is always unknown. Successful students that we’ve met with in the early stages include those such as Jared Goering and Spencer Steinert (inventors of a wearable device called Dino to help educate kids in electrical engineering and coding as well as an athletic wearable device) and Johnna Crawford (who developed an expressive writing software that analyzes and provides suggestions for mental health improvement). We are excited to be part of a rapidly growing hub of entrepreneurship and innovation in Wichita and will continue to expand our reach in Wichita and surrounding communities.


See also:

Goering and Steinert article: http://www.wichita.edu/thisis/stories/story.asp?si=3565

Crawford article: http://www.wsuventures.org/about-us/in-the-news/graduate-student-develops-tool-to-identify-signs-of-mental-illness