The Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) at Wichita State University (WSU) has continued to grow as a recognized resource in the entrepreneurial support network of the Wichita metro area and surrounding hubs that are looking to Wichita as a model for entrepreneurial resources. Ablah Library became a Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) in 1991 and in the last few years our PTRC has grown to become more essential to the campus community at WSU with the growing emphasis on innovation and applied learning. In January, Jessica Torres joined our PTRC team as an Information Services Research Assistant. Jessica will soon be able to offer one-on-one consultations and give workshops on intellectual property; she is already assisting in our outreach efforts. She is in her second semester of the School of Library and Information Science (SLIM) Program at Emporia State University.
We continue to work with WSU Ventures, the technology transfer office on campus, to support their participation in economic development grants, to provide consultations with patrons who need more information about intellectual property before pursuing WSU partnerships, and making referrals when patrons may have a need for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) assistance. Over the past year or more, we have collaborated with WSU Ventures and contributed our thoughts to the design of a patent wall where patents assigned to WSU and WSU alumni are featured prominently at the new Experiential Engineering Building (EEB).
We have worked with the Rocky Mountain Regional Office (RMRO) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to host a space for virtual presentations from the USPTO and Trademark Assistance Center. In July 2018, Molly Kocialski, Regional Director, and Rebecca Fritchman, Primary Patent Examiner, organized outreach events in Wichita and Salina with Lisa Roberts, Associate State Director of the Kansas Small Business Development Center (KSBDC), and I, representing the Wichita PTRC. We met with a variety of entrepreneurs and inventors in three “Chat with the USPTO” sessions; toured the EEB, GoCreate makerspace, National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) labs, and Airbus at WSU; and hosted two tables at the Mini Maker Faire at Exploration Place in Wichita where we provided USPTO resources and fun activities for kids to learn about invention including UV bracelets, model lungs, and paper airplanes. The RMRO is about to begin the virtual Path to a Patent series in place of the former Intellectual Property for Beginners series. These presentations will begin April 5 and should take inventors through the patent process from patent basics and searching to the e-filing process.
We have continued our outreach to inventors and entrepreneurs across Kansas through collaborating with the KSBDC. In October, I was invited to give a presentation on patents and the patent process at Encountering Innovation Week where innovators attended presentations as they waited to pitch innovations to tech scouts from the Department of Defense. In December, I participated in a virtual First Friday Entrepreneurship Zoom Call to discuss PTRC resources with state extension agents, economic development directors, and entrepreneurs through the Kansas State Research & Extension Office. In January, I gave an Intellectual Property Basics presentation at the Rural and Independent Innovators Conference in Manhattan, Kansas. After my presentation, I moderated a panel on risk management that focused on international intellectual property protection, cybersecurity, and financial concerns.
In the Fall and Spring semesters, our PTRC continues to offer free workshops that are open to the public in our Entrepreneurship Research Series. Meghann Kuhlmann, Business Liaison Librarian, Jessica Torres, and I teach eight workshops on intellectual property, market research, and other topics relevant to entrepreneurs and inventors. This semester, I duplicated my Trademark Basics workshop at the KSBDC to reach a broader audience.
In addition to the workshops and presentations that we provide, we also provide classroom instruction as requested. As the Engineering, Patents, and Trademarks Librarian, I’ve been invited to teach two library instruction sessions per semester for First Year Seminar in Technology and Innovation classes. Through this instruction, I’ve given basic patent and patent searching instruction to 7 sections of the course, nearly 165 students in the 2018-2019 academic year. I’ve also attended presentations in the Koch Innovation Challenge and Shocker New Venture Competition. As faculty, I’ve judged posters in the Graduate Research And Scholarly Projects (GRASP) and Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Forum (URCAF) competitions.
Our PTRC often receives consultation referrals from WSU Ventures, KSBDC locations across the state, and the Network Kansas Referral Center. In July, four of our resource partners from Network Kansas stopped by our library for a PTRC resource visit. Later that month, our PTRC was invited to participate in a Create Campaign event, an organization that helps urban entrepreneurs. I provided speed mentoring for entrepreneurs who had questions about trademarks for their start-ups, as well as a PTRC resource table. We also network with entrepreneurs and inventors by attending the Inventors Association of South Central Kansas meetings, 1 Million Cups pitch presentations, and Wichita Independent Business Association networking events. We try to be a visible resource in the community so that entrepreneurs and inventors know where to find resources to learn more about intellectual property.