It’s Trademark Tuesday at USPTO’s Silicon Valley office in the San Jose City Hall Annex, and the halls are abuzz with entrepreneurs and inventors. They brought their lunch and their burning questions about the registration process in tow. Experts from the Trademark Assistance Center, attending virtually from USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, are there to provide foundational knowledge to attendees looking to secure their place in the tapestry of America’s economy.
Surveying the room just moments before her welcome address is Joy Baker Peacock, Regional Outreach Officer for USPTO Silicon Valley. She looks forward to days like this when she can interact with customers and help to connect them with high-level resources like the Director of the Assistance Center and its trademark attorneys who can help attendees navigate the twists and turns of protecting their intellectual property. This is the first of three events for Joy for the day. Eyeing a few new faces among crowd seated beside several familiar ones she’s seen at past events, Joy is excited to get things started.
“As the program begins, you can see people lean forward to really take it all in,” she says. “They ask probing questions to get the information they’ve been missing – that key that unlocks the whole process,” she adds. “You see lightbulbs going off across the room.”
Most start-ups and independent inventors aren’t heavily resourced, so Trademark Tuesdays and other programs like Patent Brown Bag Lunch and Learn and Speed Dating for Startups are a lifeline: providing face-to-face, free, credible and actionable information directly from the experts. All outreach programs are offered to the full spectrum customers in the filing pipeline: from “newbies,” to those who have filed provisional patent applications, to those who are on their 5th invention.
Educational outreach is the bedrock of USPTO’s nationwide expansion across the country. As each regional location in the Midwest, Southwest, Rocky Mountain and West Coast tap into the needs of the communities they serve, USPTO is better able to scale programs nationally while tailoring curriculums to meet the unique needs of a region’s innovation ecosystem.
“Regional Outreach supports the USPTO mission by educating stakeholders, and listening to their ideas of what is working and what isn't, and being able to suggest solutions and create programs to address stakeholder needs and concerns,” says Joy.
Joy loves the challenge of creating new education and outreach programs for Silicon Valley’s stakeholders, and being part of the effort to scale USPTO’s resources to the entire country in a way that has never been possible before the regional offices were opened.
And the response from attendees to these programs? Tremendous she says.
Across the board, attendees tell Joy that the programs at USPTO Silicon Valley “bring FAQs to life.” Hands down, having local subject matter experts who are accessible, engaged and highly-interactive has made the biggest impact among regional stakeholders. Customers are better able to make more informed decisions about how to approach filing their applications with the most comprehensive evidence demonstrating that their technologies are novel and nonobvious.
In support of the Regional Director, John Cabeca’s vision, K-12 STEM-focused programs and creating the strategic approach to consistent and sustainable opportunities to engage with colleges and universities, incubators, start-ups, IP law and small business communities round out her top priorities as Regional Outreach Officer.
And she’s landed in the perfect position to continue her line of work as a community leader and all-around “champion of makers” -- helping entrepreneurs commercialize their technologies and fully realize the benefits of IP protection. As a Bay Area native, her early life, personal life and career have all been steeped in IP and start-ups –watching her father, an engineer, earn nine patents and then going on help her husband, a patent-attorney-turned-entrepreneur that is named as inventor on over 40 patents with medical device start-ups under his belt. Prior to her position at the USPTO, Joy was the Managing Director at Santa Clara’s High Tech Law Institute and worked with the Silicon Valley Leadership Coalition to bring the USPTO to San Jose.
So what does she love most about working and living in Silicon Valley?
“It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world, with wonderful weather and you are surrounded by educated and talented people who are working to solve big problems and working on technology that can enhance quality of life, save lives, and create new economies and wealth,” says Joy. “Everyone supports an entrepreneurial mindset, embraces success and failure, and people tend to be supportive and collaborative in these endeavors,” she adds.
Her advice to professionals seeking an opportunity as a USPTO Regional Outreach Director in Detroit or in Dallas is quite simple: have established connections to the regional IP community, an understanding of IP, community engagement, and marketing/PR.
“The Regional Outreach Officer position is unique in that you become a member of the local and regional IP community and serve as a liaison between the region and Headquarters,” she explains. “Developing these kinds of relationships helps to enhance the flow of communication, and deliver a higher level of customer service to our stakeholders.”
Back at Trademark Tuesday, this month’s session draws to a close and Joy thanks the audience and the speakers for coming. The buzz begins anew with promises between new and old contacts of future conversations, collaboration and knowledge exchange. And Joy is off to the next event.