During Robert Berry’s two terms as the USPTO Fellowship Librarian, I have had the honor of serving as our PTRC representative and have been the principal instructor and outreach provider. Dr. John Soderstrom (Managing Director, Yale University Office of Cooperative Research) spoke to business school students and faculty, thanks to the efforts of University Librarian Gavin Ferriby and Business Librarian Libby Knapik,. He spoke about the ethical dimensions of patents, particularly Yale’s negotiations with Bristol-Meyers Squibb concerning the pricing the AIDS drug Zerit, which was the product of Yale research.
I’ve also reached out to Connecticut’s three law schools (Quinnipiac, University of Connecticut, and Yale) to offer patent & trademark search assistance and training. UConn Law School’s USPTO Patent & Trademark Legal Clinic invited me to demonstrate best basic search strategies and the extra features available using PubWEST and PubEAST. In addition to the second-year students in the patents class, several IP faculty and the law library’s IP specialist also attended. Yale Law Library referred a student to us to research the assignment of a patent for a chemical involved in a toxic spill. Another lawyer who has become a regular at the PTRC is a former patent examiner who now practices with a large international IP law firm with offices in Connecticut – for certain patent searches, he’s found that his expert searching produces better and more efficient results than out-sourced searching.
Since our library’s initial appointment in 2008, we’ve increased the community’s awareness of PTRC services with individual consultation and training appointments at the library and presentations to groups around the state. Several have been general IP programs organized by local libraries, small and large. I met with approximately 100 at the Women Entrepreneurs Resource Expo at the Westport Public Library (a medium-sized suburban public library known for its Maker program). At the smaller Middlebury Public Library, our presentation was tailored to families, featuring creative thinking and inventing activities and kid-ventions. At a Minds in MotionTM program offered by the Connecticut Association for the Gifted, I showed “kid-vention” patents to students in grades 4-6 and helped them practice the inventive and creative thinking used in problem solving and design engineering.
Looking at the negligible number of plant patents issued in Connecticut in recent years, I connected with one of our internationally known nurseries, White Flower Farm. We discussed the PTRCs resources, including the color prints of patented plants, as a resource for possible product lines for the company and a data source for identifying successful growers of new plant species. Since their catalogue is illustrated with watercolor images of plants and gardens, I am working on a collaboration between SHU’s art department and White Flower Farm.
With four new librarians hired this fall, I’ve given each a brief tour of our PTRC resources and familiarized them with the sign-on security protocols for the VPN terminal. This increases the available times for PTRC users who have already been trained in search strategies and tools.
Thanks to the Brian Stockdale Memorial Award, I was able to make valuable connections with international community of professional patent searchers through the Patent Information Users Group (PIUG). Their annual meeting included dozens of representatives of commercial patent databases and landscaping tools and national patent office representatives from several countries (too expensive for most libraries, but good for market awareness). The five days of workshops and plenary educational sessions gave me a good grounding in the business and legal concerns of intellectual property creators, managers, and investors. The PIUG members are dedicated, loyal, and fun-loving IP experts.
While there, PTRCA member Jim Miller introduced me to Russ Allen and his treasure trove of patent information. Russ is the creator of the online Directory of Tool and Machine Patents and other IP knowledge repositories. In recognition of his philanthropic work in the field of IP history, he was recently made an honorary PTRCA member. I saw Jim Miller again at the PIUG Northeast Conference, which focuses on IP issues for chemistry, biology, other sciences, and engineering, and at Martin Wallace’s CPC training at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The turnout at the latter was good; perhaps a future program could engage librarians with no prior experience in patents and trademarks. The schedule of dates and locations is available (through 2027!) at http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/ala-upcoming-annual-conferences-midwinter-meetings