FROM: Assistant Secretary of Commerce and
Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks


December 1, 1995, is World AIDS Day. This is a time to remember the more than one million Americans infected with HIV and the thousands who have already died of AIDS. If you do not know someone who has died of AIDS, then chances are great that you will one day, for the devastating effects of this illness are felt by Americans in every community and from every walk of life.

As Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks, I have committed this agency to taking the lead in creating a nondiscriminatory workplace allowing employees to educate themselves fully about the spread and prevention of this deadly disease. For starters, we recently put 1500 AIDS-related patents on the Internet, accessible to all persons inside or outside the agency interested in learning more about research efforts to trace, analyze and, we hope, eventually cure HIV and AIDS. Further, a new special status of application has been established in order to expedite the prosecution of inventions related to the treatment or cure of HIV and AIDS in an attempt to hasten the development of a cure.

President Clinton has called HIV and AIDS the "health crisis of the century." But, he also has urged us not to despair in the face of the daunting statistics of infection.

We can all help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS by both educating ourselves and by reaching out to those who are isolated through fear of this disease. Please join me in supporting those who are helping people living with HIV and AIDS and who are striving to create a workplace in which each of us may contribute to the best of his or her ability, free from harassment, fear, and discrimination.

Bruce A. Lehman