The Auburn PTRC made several changes during the year. After considering the options, we closed down our CASSIS collection and now provide reference from online sources. I am using the PubWEST system more and more, and I really like the Grid which allows me to sort results by patent classification. I hope that this becomes the standard for disseminating patent information in the future.
I trained my colleagues in patent searching and the basics of IP in December. I was able to train all my colleagues in two sessions, and what made it particularly fun for me was we were able to search for a patent by one of my colleague’s Grandfather.
I also was able to train a few of the faculty when they requested training. It appears that year by year there is more interest in patents from the faculty and I am always keeping an ear out to hear if they need anything.
One of the most interesting patent research questions turned out not to be a patent question after all. One of our industrial designers had interviewed the man who designed the Igloo Playmate cooler who told him it had been patented, but he didn’t have the documentation. After a lot of searching, I found the trademark information with the date of first use in trade, but no patents. I eventually got the PTRC office involved and they could not find a patent either.
Another near-miss patent question came when someone wanted to know about Lillian Gilbreth’s patent for a kitchen design. I did not find any patents in the patent databases, but we did have biographies of her and we found that she published extensively on kitchen design. Her papers are in the collection of Purdue University. In case you didn’t know, along with being a great industrial engineer, she was also the mother of the “Cheaper by the Dozen” family.
These examples show that in an academic library, people consult with the patent librarian for more than just prior art searches for a patent application, but also to round out their research on a topic.