2011 PTDLA President

Dear Colleagues, this has been a very unusual and exciting year for the Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (PTDLs), the Patent and Trademark Depository Program (PTDLP), and the Patent and Trademark Depository Association (PTDLS). After the 2010 Seminar was postponed, President Andy Wohrley arranged to hold a PTDLA Business Meeting on June 27, 2010. Although the 12 attendees did not constitute a quorum, the meeting proved to be quite enlightening, as we discussed the status of our Program and its member libraries in the context of the current budgetary situation, our agenda in preparation for the upcoming meeting with Director Kappos, our election schedule and other plans for the future of the PTDLA, and our aspirations for the future of the PTDLs and our Program. While in the Washington DC/Alexandria area for the ALA Conference, PTDLA attendees also received training at USPTO headquarters on June 29 and 30.

The attendees at the June 30, 2010 meeting with Director Kappos included his Chief of Staff, Drew Hirshfeld; and PTDLA members President Andy Wohrley, Secretary Marian Armour-Gemmen, Treasurer Jim Miller, and me, in my capacity as Vice-President/President-elect. At the meeting, President Wohrley presented the PTDLA’s positions on the importance of training in general and the Training Seminar, in particular. In response to Director Kappos’ question, he noted the PTDLA’s preference for a Spring 2011. Director Kappos indicated that there was no reason not to hold the next Seminar at that time

Mr. Kappos made two requests, that we provide objective measures of our activities under a new business model for our Program; and that a taskforce be formed to re-imagine the role of the PTDLs to provide greater value to the USPTO and our customers by enhanced use of the current and future resources made available to us. Additionally, he asked that we embrace the results of statistical information regarding the effectiveness of our efforts and their value to the USPTO, our customers, other innovators, the intellectual property community, and the nation at large. He noted his willingness to provide funds to support our efforts in these areas if they could be objectively justified.

All in all, the meeting between the Director of the USPTO and members of the PTDLA Executive Council, the first in many years, provided us with well-justified reasons to look positively to the future of our Program. As such, we must enhance the efforts of our PTDLs to continue and improve our evolving role as an accessible, cost effective, and vital part of the efforts, along with the USPTO and other associations and programs, to provide information and other assistance to those whose hard work and spirit of innovation will pave the way to the future.

In the spirit of our meeting with Director Kappos and the discussions and other efforts within the USPTO to reinvigorate the PTDL Program, USPTO staff (including PTDLP employees), PTDL librarians (including PTDLA officers), representatives of other associations and businesses, and members of the public were in attendance at the USPTO Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program (PTDLP) Public Roundtable, held Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at USPTO headquarters. Others, participating via webcast, could submit comments and questions which could be read and discussed. Written comments may also be submitted to PTDL_comments@uspto.gov until the March 17, 2011 deadline. There was also limited call-in capability.

Mr. Kappos started the USPTO Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program Public Roundtable relating our history, our value to our various customers, and our role as the face of the USPTO in our communities. He also spoke of the evolution of our Program from our origins as depositories of paper copies through the various forms of online and disc-based systems to the present day on which we are at the threshold of receiving and providing further innovative resources, programs and services. He noted his desire for input from the PTDLs and his plans to develop future initiatives in partnership with us.

In the following discussions, various representatives of the USPTO, the PTDLS, other organizations, etc. made note of the products, services, and programs they wanted in conjunction with the needs and desires of themselves, their constituencies, and the greater innovation and business communities. The discussions included an exchange of information regarding various possible modalities by which PTDL staff and our customers could communicate directly with USPTO examiners and other staff members. Representatives of both the USPTO and the PTDLs provided information about current and planned modes of interactive communication. Examples were noted, including e-ref, an e-mail based service, and chat-based reference services, both of which are in current use at many libraries, including numerous PTDLs. Mr. Kappos mentioned the possibility of USPTO-provided videoconferencing capabilities which might be used to facilitate conversation and document sharing. Some of the technical and confidentiality issues inherent in the implementation and use of such technologies were discussed.

PTDL representatives provided questions and comments regarding the role of USPTO staff sharing their skills and knowledge with PTDL customers and staffs via site visits, and possible future use of videoconferencing technologies. The attendees discussed problems associated with providing PTDL customers and staff with expanded access to databases, commercial ones in particular. The current capabilities unique to Cassis, were discussed, as were the possible future replacement products with these capabilities. Additional points were put forward about the positive effects that USPTO-affiliated, marketing, programs and other resources (including videos on various topics) have on customer traffic at our libraries.

I would like to thank the Election Committee; Leena Lalwani (Chair), Michael Strickland, Ran Raider, Hal Mendelsohn, and Charlotte Erdmann for their willingness to continue serving through 2011, and who with invaluable work of Charlotte and her (and our) colleague, Amy Van Epps at Purdue University, organized and successfully completed two elections in less than nine months.

I wish to thank everyone who has brought us from the postponement of the 2010 Seminar to the present day as we await reunion with our friends and colleague who have shared such dedication to the Program and the PTDLs themselves. I particular, I want to thank Chris Kitchens and the entire staff of our Patent and Trademark Depository Program for their hard work and support; Martha Sneed for her continuing support and counsel over the years; Director Kappos and his staff for the time and effort they spent on meeting with the PTDLA Executive Council, organizing the recent Roundtable on the PTDLP, and ensuring that the upcoming Seminar came to fruition; and my predecessor and successor in the PTDLA presidency, Andy Wohrley and Marian Armour-Gemmen, respectively, for their contributions to the further successes of our Program. Thanks also, to Esther Crawford for serving as webmaster and editor of the PTDLA website; and the PTDLA Executive Council for their advice and assistance; particularly, Martin Wallace for his work on the resolutions honoring retired colleagues; Suzanne Reinman, for her continuing work as editor of the PTDL Newsletter, and Jim Miller for his efforts recording and maintaining the financial health of the PTDLA.

In conclusion, it seems that the PTDLP not only has a future, but, quite possibly, a more central, useful and fulfilling one. The imminent changes, which we will undoubtedly learn more about at the upcoming Seminar, may well provide some moments of doubt and confusion, but I feel confident that this period of adjustment will lead to a more empowered and effective PTDL program for the people we serve.

Bob Klein