2016 was a year of change for our Center. In February I took over as manager from Kate Meddaugh. Our Center has been located in the Science and History Division since its inception in 1999 and Kate masterly led it for 10 years. Being no fool, I didn’t let Kate totally retire from the Center! We continue to be funded by Catherine Carlson, daughter of Chester F. Carlson, inventor of xerography.
We continue to do programs at surrounding libraries to promote the Center and spread IP knowledge. But this year the training in March inspired me to try something new; an IP Expo. Being a newbie, I wasn’t getting all of the emails from the USPTO including the one from Tom Turner calling for requests for speakers. Even though my request came in too late, Tom hooked me up with Mindy Bickel from the Innovation Development Office and Katie Wagner from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, New York. Tracy Jong, a local patent attorney spoke about trademarks and Linda Halliburton, one of our Business Librarians, spoke about the resources available in the Business Department. It was wildly successful. People who couldn’t make it to the Expo asked when the next one was. We forgot to take down the web page to register and on the Sunday after the Expo a gentleman signed up for it, adding a note that it was for next year’s Expo! Videos of the presentations are available on YouTube.
I have included The Anatomy of an IP Expo below.
We also started a subscription to Innovation Q by ip.com. This database is so much easier to search than the USPTO’s site. Of course it doesn’t cut out the USPTO, but it does cut down on the time that one spends searching prior art. It also helps inventors looking to license their products with special reports it can run.
A group of inventors has splintered off from the Western New York Inventor’s Society. The newly formed Rochester Inventors Group meets monthly in the Science Division’s meeting room. I attend those meetings and have even been a presenter at one of them. I keep them posted on any news from the USPTO and clear up any misconceptions. The group ranges from people with ideas to inventors with patents who want to know what to do next. Because of them I have expanded what we do to include information about trade shows and have also put one inventor in touch with someone at the Veterans Business Council. His invention was inspired by a friend who is a vet and he wants veterans to make and sell the product.
My concern that people just didn’t know about us was confirmed by the IP Expo; in the evaluations most of them hadn’t heard about us before they got the invitation to the Expo. My goal for the coming year is to spread the word! I started off by doing a webinar on IP for a local consultant. This week I am attending an open house at the Rochester MakerSpace.
Probably my favorite success story is from one of my very first inventors. Kate and I had done a program at the Penfield Public Library and this gentleman hadn’t been able to attend, but because of the advertising for the program he knew about us and contacted me. He said he had an idea, but a friend of his told him it was too simple to be patented and besides getting a patent would cost thousands and thousands of dollars, but he had just paid someone $300 to print out a prototype on a 3D printer. The first thing I asked him was if it was already being printed, because I could print it for him FREE. He hung up, cancelled it and called me back. I did print it out for him. Unfortunately when he came in to search for prior art, he found his idea had already been patented. I still consider this a success story because I found out Mike was unemployed at the time, so I saved him $300 from printing a prototype for something that was already patented at a time when he really didn’t have money to waste.