Maria V. Hernandez
In recognition of African-American History Month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has unveiled a new exhibit in its museum in Arlington, Va. The exhibit, called , recognizes and pays tribute to those innovators of African-American descent, whose creativity and inventions play an important role in America's technological past, present, and future.
Colors of Innovation highlights African-Americans, such as Madame C.J. Walker, Lewis Howard Latimer, and Granville T. Woods, who received patents for their inventions. The exhibit also features African-Americans who registered trademarks for their products or services or hold copyrights on their artistic works.
The exhibit showcases inventors in the electrical arts such as Meredith C. Gourdine, who holds more than 40 patents, and Mark Dean, who with his co-inventor Dennis Moeller, created a microcomputer system allowing for peripheral processing devices. The chemical arts section includes George Washington Carver, who devoted his life to innovation, and Charles R. Drew, M.D., who made discoveries relating to the preservation of blood. The mechanical arts section features Elijah McCoy, who earned more than 50 patents, and Jan Ernst Matzeliger, who developed a shoe lasting machine. The black enterprise section features trademarks such as Parks Sausage Products, registered by Henry Green Parks, Jr.
The PTO Museum is located at 2121 Crystal Drive, Suite 0100, in Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia. The exhibit, runs through February 26, 1999.
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.