Fort Lauderdale, FL

Broward County Main Library

My name is Eileen Fischlschweiger and I’ve been the Patent and Trademark Librarian for the Fort Lauderdale PTRC at the Broward County Main Library for 24 years, and the PTRC Representative for 22 years.  I have been a librarian with the Broward County Library System for over 30 years.  I have a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in both Chemistry and Physics, a Master of Arts degree in Journalism and Communications with a specialization in Broadcast Production, a considerable amount of graduate level coursework in Education, and a second Master’s degree in Library Science.

Since its designation as a PDL (Patent Depository Library) on November 1st, 1984, the Fort Lauderdale PTRC has been located at the Broward County Main Library in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  During 1984 – 1996 it was a part of the Government Documents Department; later, it became a part of the Business, Law, and Government (BLG) Section (November 1996 – January 2010); and since 2010, it has been a part of the Reference Section, later renamed the Information Services Section, and currently named Adult Services Section.

Boost your programming as well as increase your knowledge and that of your customers with USPTO simulcasts: A great win-win opportunity!

Librarians are always looking for programming opportunities, and the USPTO produces wonderful programs in an effort to reach out to the public and provide them with educational and informational opportunities.

Programming brings customers into the library and this provides the librarians with a great opportunity to inform them about library services of which they may not be aware, such as the Virtual Assistance Pilot Program service introduced in May 2017.  On the other hand, the USPTO can reach people who may not be aware of their programs, or may not be able to attend in person.  And, librarians can also attend and learn alongside the customers.  These programs serve to increase and improve customer and librarian knowledge which translates directly into improved understanding of intellectual property topics for both, and improved patent quality for applicants, thereby benefitting the USPTO as well as the PTRC library staff.

And, by bringing customers into the library, these programs provide PTRC librarians with the opportunity to promote PTRC services to the customers and inform them about available resources.

Why does this work?

EM Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory (http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/SB/BehavioralChangeTheories/BehavioralChangeTheories4.html) can elucidate.

Let’s look at the Virtual Assistance Pilot Program as an example of an innovation that libraries and the USPTO are working together to diffuse to the pro-se patent applicant sector.  It is important to first note that this is a service that goes contrary to the perceptions of library customers: for decades librarians have been telling customers that we can give them information in general terms only, albeit specialized and detailed, to the extent covered by our training by the USPTO, and we cannot provide them with assistance with their specific inventions because, since we are not patent attorneys or patent agents, that would constitute unauthorized practice of law.  Consequently, customers are not expecting to find a service like the kind that the Virtual Assistance Pilot Program provides in libraries, so they do not ask.  Most do not even expect such a service to exist, let alone that it be free.  However, they do expect programming in libraries and they check programming listings in which they are interested.

I was introduced to Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory in the mid 1980’s in one of my classes for the Master of Arts in Journalism and Communications degree at the University of Florida, and, in fact, it was an element of my master’s thesis, which involved a survey of residents of the Gainesville, FL, area regarding their usage or non-usage of the Gainesville Cable Press teletext news service broadcasted via cable, which is described at http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/about.htm.  In my thesis I proposed a suggestion for the improvement in viewership of this service which involved the premise that it was possible to diffuse the then innovation teletext news service to improve viewership by having monitors at the library with the rotating news screens that library users could view.  The idea was that library users came to the library for a variety of reasons, including to obtain information, including the news, such as with newspapers and magazines.  This service would fill that need by providing updated news not yet available in those print resources, and without having to wait for the evening news.  Viewing this service in that context would then prompt a portion of library visitors to adopt the service and conveniently view it on demand from the comfort of their own home, as it was updated 18 hours a day.

Now that we know how programming can help showcase and promote PTRC services, what programs are there available for PTRCs to use?

Some PTRCs may be concerned about the time it takes to put together a good quality program for the public.  Many of us have spent a great deal of time crafting presentations that are easy to understand, up-to-date, and complete, but not oversimplified or inaccurate.  This requires a great deal of knowledge and experience, as well as time to put it all together.  But what if you are a new PTRC librarian?  What if you do not have that kind of time?

The PTRC librarian’s goal is to assist the public with patent and trademark information.  The USPTO also has the goal of disseminating patent and trademark information to those who need it.  And, at this point in the 21st Century, the technology has advanced to the point that any library with internet access can have ready-made programming from the USPTO guaranteed to be current, accurate, and with an audience of lay inventors and entrepreneurs in mind!  How?  The answer is simulcasting, and all you need to have is a computer with internet access capable of sound and a link to the event.

During this year our library has simulcasted in a small horseshoe meeting area at the Creation Station Business (shown in the photograph) four of the five generally monthly programs listed below in order of appearance during the month:

  • “Intellectual Property Basics and SBA Resources”
    • Provided by the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
    • Links provided to participating PTRC libraries
    • Not archived
    • Repeated on a monthly schedule the first Thursday of every month
  • “Patent Quality Chat”
  • Provided by USPTO Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality
  • Links available online to all
  • Archived online
  • Formerly on a monthly schedule generally on the second Tuesday of every month, through January 2019 (which was on Thursday 1/10/19).  These have since moved to an as needed basis and upcoming ones, such as the one scheduled for 4/9/19, are advertised using Patent Alerts and on the Patent Quality Chat webpage.
  • Provided by the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Links provided to participating PTRC libraries
  • Not archived
  • Repeated on a monthly schedule on the second Tuesday of every month
  • Provided by the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
  • Links provided to participating PTRC libraries
  • Not archived
  • On a monthly schedule on the third Wednesday of every month, with each part repeated in sequence on a quarterly basis
  • Provided by USPTO Office of Innovation Development
  • Links available online to all
  • Archived online
  • On a monthly schedule generally on the third Thursday of every month
  • “Trademark Tuesday” (AKA “Detroit Lunch and Learn”)
  • “Patent Wednesday” (Parts 1, 2, and 3)
  • “Inventor Info Chat”

In addition, the USPTO offers a variety of one-time programs that are available for public view live via webcast which are advertised via patent alerts and on their website, and are frequently archived.  Not only can these provide ready-made programs for library customers, but they can also be instructive for librarians. A list of USPTO events may be found at https://www.uspto.gov/about-us/events.

2018-2019 Highlights

  • In addition to the various simulcasts as narrated above, Eileen has continued with the Virtual Assistance Pilot Program, a videoconference service from the USPTO for pro-se patent applicants available at selected PTRCs, with a total of 26 completed meetings since the inception of the program in May 2017.
     
  • In May 2018 Eileen created a National Inventors’ Month book display using various attractive images to enhance the display’s appearance.
     
  • On April 25, 2018, Eileen provided a brief impromptu presentation covering a variety of information, including an introduction to the PTRC, patents, the importance of patent searching as well as PTRC resources for doing so, and the Virtual Assistance Pilot Program, with a mention of trademarks and copyright information availability.  This was done by invitation from the speakers of the Business Model Canvas Workshop, at the pre-event program for the Startup Weekend Fort Lauderdale at the Broward County Main Library.|
     
  • On May 12, 2018, Eileen provided a presentation to the Inventors’ Society of South Florida (ISSF) titled “USPTO Pro-Se Assistance Efforts and Resources Available at the Broward County Main Library.”
     
  • On May 16, 2018 Eileen completed a plant patent display showcased in a glass case on the 5th floor of the Broward County Main Library.  This display complements the patent model display showcased on the same floor.
     
  • In June and July 2018 Eileen provided a staff training on intellectual property basics and the PTRC, trademarks and trademark searching, Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) and patent searching, as well as other information to help them get up to speed with assisting customers with patent and trademark searching at the Creation Station Business so that Eileen can focus on the advanced work with customers and the Virtual Assistance Pilot Program in addition to her other assigned duties.
     
  • In October 2018 Eileen provided process improvement ideas for the Virtual Assistance Pilot Program service, based on an analysis of the setup issues experienced as well as of issues arising during the previous 17 months of offering the service, along with materials created with input from the USPTO on an as-needed basis to coordinate the program at our location, such as sample flyers.
     
  • On January 31, 2019, Eileen provided a public presentation tilted “The Patent and Trademark Resource Center at the Broward County Main Library and its Resources for Startups” at the Broward County Main Library’s Creation Station Business for Techstars Startup Week Fort Lauderdale.
     
  • On February 9, 2019, Broward County Main Library hosted the Inventors Society of South Florida (ISSF) Free Inventors EXPO 2019.  Robert Anstett, Coordinator of Digital Initiatives for the Broward County Libraries, coordinated this event with Leo Mazur, ISSF President.  There were 37 exhibitors and two speakers, and the event brought in approximately 150 attendees.  Eileen met with many of the inventors, answering their patent and trademark questions and providing USPTO handouts sent by the PTRC Program Office.

Submitted by Eileen Fischlschweiger, PTRC Representative for the Fort Lauderdale PTRC.