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October 01, 1999
#99-33

Contact:
Brigid Quinn
Maria V. Hernandez
703-305-8341

Press Release, 99-33

PTO to Air Ads Targeting Invention Promotion Scams

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), as part of the agency's specialized support for small inventors, on October 1, 1999, will start 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.

"America's independent inventors are a valuable intellectual and economic resource," notes Q. Todd Dickinson. "It is independent inventors, who discovered the pacemaker, and brought us the elevator, and the liquid crystal display." Continues Dickinson, "the best defense is a good offense in that unscrupulous invention promotion firms are effectively using television to dupe America's independent inventors into pouring their money into scams. PTO will use this same medium more effectively to counter the heinous assault on one of this nation's greatest natural resources—Americans with creative minds and entrepreneurial spirits."

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 website 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. The link for the Office of Independent Resources website: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/index.htm.

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 106,000 trademarks.

Editor's Note: Copies of the 30-second television commercial can be made available by calling 703-305-8341.

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