Summer's Featured Article
Budding visionary inventor Ruth Young
Filing a provisional or nonprovisional patent application can be an overwhelming experience for first-time pro se filers. This inventor spotlight features the journey of budding Californian inventor Ruth Young, a former professional house cleaner for 28 years.
Young exemplifies grit, persistence, and determination when it comes to seeking the best information and guidance. As a first-time inventor, Young wanted to find practical and relevant advice about filing a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to secure intellectual property protection for her inventive ideas. As she and her husband searched daily for the best resources, they came across an advertisement for Invention-Con 2017, an annual, free two-day conference for pro se inventors, entrepreneurs, and small business owners hosted by the Office of Innovation Development (OID) at the USPTO’s headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.
Young saw that Invention-Con offers free educational presentations by intellectual property experts, networking opportunities, one-on-one sessions with patent examiners, breakout sessions, and more. After reading the agenda and seeing the scope of the conference, Young decided to go.
She was not disappointed. Young had expected that learning about patents would involve endless paperwork filled with legal terminology that only an expert could decipher. The experience couldn’t have been more different. She attended lectures, talked personally with guest speakers, learned about the Law School Clinic Certification Program, and got practical advice about the patent and trademark processes.
“When I attended Invention-Con 2017, I had the opportunity to speak to experts,” Young said, emphasizing that it was great “to be able to have direct contact with people who were able to give me the information that I was looking for.”
When asked to identify a helpful resource mentioned at Invention-Con, Young said, “The first one I remember was a workshop that mentioned law clinics. I immediately wrote down the one for California. In fact, as soon as I returned home, I went straight to the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. I applied immediately. And, sure enough, they called me after they approved me. In a couple of months, I was able to get assistance with a trademark. Then I applied for assistance for filing a patent. Right now, they have filed a second patent application for me.”
When registration opened for Invention-Con 2018, Young signed up without hesitation. Far more experienced by this time, she had filed two nonprovisional utility patent applications for an innovation in bed sheets, had filed provisional applications, attended OID outreach programs, used pro bono services offered by law firms and clinics through the USPTO, consulted with patent attorneys, and learned first-hand how to use the search tools available in the USPTO’s public search facility and on the internet.
Young was so determined to attend that she borrowed $500 from a family member to pay for the trip and other incidentals. And she was willing to sacrifice for the experience: When a fellow Invention-Con 2018 attendee asked where she was staying, she though hard about replying before she said, “I am sleeping in my rental car.” Shocked by the response, the attendee became an “Angel Good Samaritan” and decided on the spot to pay for hotel accommodations and food for one week for Young.
Filled with motivation, Young visited OID the following Monday for free, in-person, one-on-one assistance offered though the Pro Se Assistance Program. While the Pro Se Assistance Program cannot provide legal advice, she was able to receive information to assist her with making informed decisions regarding the patent application filing process.
Young is no longer in the house cleaning business. She devotes her time to researching and developing her inventive ideas, stays focused on bringing her products to market, and uses the pro se and educational outreach programs offered by OID to get her patent applications filed. When asked how she encourages other inventors, Young said, “I tell them ‘if I did it, you can do it.’”
Register now for Invention-Con 2019 “Leveraging Your Intellectual Property in the Marketplace.” For more information about upcoming OID events please contact OID events at firstname.lastname@example.org or 571-272-8033.
The USPTO gives you useful information and non-legal advice in the areas of patents and trademarks. The patent and trademark statutes and regulations should be consulted before attempting to apply for a patent or register a trademark. These laws and the application process can be complicated. If you have intellectual property that could be patented or registered as a trademark, the use of an attorney or agent who is qualified to represent you in the USPTO is advised.