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Friday Apr 26, 2019

Celebrating World IP Day

World IP Day image

By Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu

Every year on April 26, we celebrate World Intellectual Property Day. Established by the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2000, World IP Day highlights the importance of intellectual property in our lives around the globe. This year’s theme is "Reach for the Gold: IP and Sports.”

Inventions have revolutionized sports. From the athletic shoe and protective helmet, to materials like VELCRO®, LYCRA®, and ASTROTURF®, sports inventions have helped improve the speed, accuracy, and safety of athletes everywhere. Now, technological advances in robotics and artificial intelligence are fueling change in sports. And, perhaps even more exciting, these advances often have applications not only in sports, but in other industries as well.

Consider Stan Honey, who was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame last year for his unique augmented-reality tools. He holds over 30 U.S. patents and is the creator of the navigation and tracking technology behind the Virtual Yellow 1st & Ten® line superimposed over the playing field on television and other graphics used across a wide variety of sports. Learn more about how Stan Honey came up with the idea of the first down line or visit the interactive 1st and Ten® Line Stadium exhibit at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum at the USPTO headquarters.

Across the country, the USPTO is holding a number of World IP Day events. Last week, I participated in several such events in California, including a discussion at the University of California San Diego on innovation and sports, featuring Bill Walton, retired basketball player, television sportscaster, and Basketball Hall of Fame inductee. Walton is currently the executive chairman of San Diego Sport Innovators (SDSI), a non-profit, business-accelerating, trade organization that connects and drives the growth of Southern California's vibrant sports economy.

At the USPTO earlier this week, Deputy Director Laura Peter interviewed entrepreneur and former professional football player Shawn Springs. After seeing first-hand the risks associated with head injuries and concussions in football, Springs thought the head protection used in car seats for children could have a much wider application. He founded the company Windpact, which uses his patented Crash Cloud® technology in helmets, with air-filled compartments that compress upon impact and then refill with air to regain their space. This technology has applications in football and other sports, as well as the automotive and military sectors.

And, on April 29, we will be holding our annual celebration of World IP Day on Capitol Hill, where we will be joined by members of Congress and sports companies. This year the keynote speaker is Dr. Phil Wagner, CEO of Sparta Science, whose force-plate technology helps predict injury risks for athletes. A strength coach and former rugby player, Dr. Wagner developed the Sparta System, which uses artificial intelligence technology to capture a personalized body scan. The scan can then identify areas prone to injury and prescribe personalized training programs to correct weaknesses. The Sparta System is already being deployed among college athletes and professionals and is also used by the military.

At the USPTO, we have the opportunity to celebrate creativity and innovation every day, and to see the cutting-edge technologies that inventors and entrepreneurs bring through our doors. These innovations will continue to play an even bigger role in the future, and they remind us of the inspiring power of invention and intellectual property, and their importance in driving our innovation economy.

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