Message from the Program Office 2015

change iconSpring has rolled around again in Virginia. As we look forward to the cherry blossoms in 2015, we are planning another annual seminar. This past year we sadly said goodbye to Julie Mason as our PTRC Fellow from the University of California in Riverside, California and bade a warm welcome to Rob Berry as the new PTRC Fellow from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.

We will also be saying a sad farewell to Martha Crockett Sneed as she prepares to retire at the end of March 2015. Early in her career Martha served as the PTRC Representative from the Detroit Public Library for seven years and was active in the PTRCA before it became an association. In 1984 Martha joined the USPTO to help develop the fledgling PTRC Program Office. Martha became the PTRC Program Manager in January 1992. In May 2000 she was promoted to her current position as the Director of the Public Search Services Division under the Public Information Services Group in the Office of the Chief Information Officer. In this capacity she supervises the Patent and Trademark Research Centers (PTRCs), the Public Search Facility (PSF) and the USPTO Contact Center (UCC). For her dedication and commitment through the years and for her outstanding continuous staunch support of the program, we thank her. We will sorely miss her.

I think the watch word for the program office in this year, as it has been in past years, is “change”. You can spell change with a small c or a capital C, but however you spell it there is a lot of change going on at the USPTO. This includes the program office as well.

We saw the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) system take the driver’s seat in classification searching starting January 1, 2015. To prepare for this change out the PTRC Program Office has been working throughout the past year on training materials relevant to this new global classification scheme. This year’s seminar will see a major training emphasis on CPC. Additionally, heavier use of PubEAST at the PTRCs has produced questions for the program office on best practices and tips and tricks to effectively use this powerful search system. There will be a special training session on the first day of seminar on PubEAST. Our PTRCP web pages underwent a major update thanks in large part to Julie Mason and Daphne Joseph. I consider the interactive map listing each PTRC to be the crowning jewel of the PTRC web pages. It was completed just as the entire look of the USPTO website changed.

This year we have also witnessed a growth in interest in 3-D printers. We have heard that a number of PTRCs have either added 3-D printers to their list of services to patrons or have this service available within their institution. We expect that this will continue to be a hot topic in the coming years.

After last seminar the program office traveled to Pittsburgh in May, Dallas and Cleveland in September, Auburn in October and then to Honolulu in January 2015. Highly successful public programs were held at the PTRCs located in those cities. Summer 2014 webinars were given on the electronic Manual of Patent Examining Procedures (eMPEP) and Provisional Patent Applications.

Thanks go to PTRCs participating in the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and First Inventor to File (FITF) Roadshows. For the PTAB Roadshow a round of applause goes to the Chicago Public Library, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Cleveland Public Library, Minneapolis Central Library, Milwaukee Public Library and the University of Washington/Seattle PTRCs. For the FITF Roadshow a round of applause goes to the University of New Hampshire, School of Law/Concord, the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta and University of Wisconsin-Madison PTRCs. Roadshows allow the USPTO to reach out to your community in order to provide key information that will assist researchers, inventors and local businesses with their intellectual property needs.

All of us here at the program office are eagerly looking forward to seeing you at the 37th Annual Training Seminar. We thank each and every one of you for a successful year. Our successes are due to your commitment and dedication.

As a late breaking postscript many of you know by now that I have been selected as the new director of the Public Search Services Division. I look forward to working with the PTRCs in this new position. I will continue to wear my PTRCP manager’s hat for the short term.