Maria V. Hernandez
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is co-sponsoring the Mississippi Inventor's Conference, "Ideas to Dollars," on October 30th in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. This one-day conference from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Mississippi Polymer Institute consists of various workshops for inventors and entrepreneurs. Donald Kelly, director of PTO's newly established Office of Independent Inventor Programs, will represent the agency. Kelly will address conferees, describing the initiatives the PTO is currently undertaking to establish new lines of communication, education and support systems for inventors/entrepreneurs.
About America's independent inventors, Q. Todd Dickinson, acting commissioner of patents and trademarks says, "We must do all we can to support and encourage them. They represent one of our nation's greatest natural resources." Continues Dickinson, "I want the PTO to nurture this boundless creativity by simplifying their access to our patent system."
In April of this year, the PTO opened a new office aimed at meeting the special needs of independent inventors. The Office of Independent Inventor Programs (OIIP) establishes new mechanisms to better disseminate information about the patent and trademark processes and fosters regular communication between the PTO and independent inventors. OIIP has a web site that offers educational and outreach programs for independent inventors, covering all aspects of the patent and trademark process, including how to file an application and what's patentable. In addition, the PTO, as part of the agency's specialized support for small inventors, has started airing 60-second radio and 30-second television commercials in the San Jose, CA and Tampa, FL media markets. The purpose of these advertisements is to inform and educate the independent inventor about the problem of fraudulent invention development and marketing firms. The PTO's new inventor resources website link is http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/index.html.
In FY 1998, America's independent inventors filed 15 percent of the 256,666 applications received by the agency.
The PTO is the Commerce Department's user fee-funded bureau that administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks; advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on patent, trademark and copyright protection; and advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property. Nearly 6 million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790. Last year PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,279 trademarks.