One of the things I love about being CLP’s Patent and Trademark Librarian is that it makes me think about different types of creativity. My creative pursuits have always tended towards making art, writing, and crafting, but in my role at CLP, I meet a lot of people who are developing inventions and innovations, as well as building businesses and coming up with trademarks to set their business apart from others. Any time you’ve put time and effort into creating something, whether it’s a song or painting, a new way to cure hiccups, or a name for your new business, knowing how to protect your intellectual property is something you’re probably interested in.
Figuring out what type of intellectual property law applies to you and how to go about filing for protection can be confusing. You might already know that you should search for patents before trying to get one yourself, but not know where to start. You might want to see if another company is already using the name you want for your business but find that a Google search just isn’t cutting it. CLP has lots of books on intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyright. We’re also a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC), which means that we can help you get started with your patent or trademark search.
If the resources above aren’t quite enough to get you started, CLP is hosting a free day-long workshop on Wednesday, May 14 with speakers from the PTRC Program of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Resource Center. They plan to cover a number of topics, including the different types of intellectual property protection; how to conduct a basic patent and trademark search; invention promotion forms, and provide an overview of some of the tools that are available for more advanced searchers (PubWEST and PubEAST). If you’d like to attend this free workshop, you can register here.
I remember the exact moment that my potential boss asked me about answering questions concerning patents and trademarks in addition to performing the duties he had previously described for the job. Since I wanted to work at the Carnegie Library pretty badly and since the job offer was contingent on a “yes,” I swept my inner self in search of an affirming smile that could mask my apprehensions. I’m glad I was successful because in landing the job, I gained the opportunity to learn about and appreciate not only patents—the topic of this post—but also trademarks and copyrights, two other forms of intellectual property.
Intellectual property is a direct consequence of creativity, i.e., mental effort. Behind the television, the iPod®, the auto—not to mention the paper clip, the drinking straw and other ubiquities—lay ideas that sprang from the minds of inventors and entrepreneurs. Recognizing the value of intellectual property, our government offers patents as an incentive for the generation of new ideas that result in new and valuable products and methods which move the nation forward. In exchange for full disclosure, the government-issued patent forbids others from capitalizing on an invention for twenty years.
As a member of the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program, the Reference Services staff answers questions about patents and helps patrons search for various types of information about them. Inventors who plan to apply for a patent want to make sure that their ideas are original, while others want to trace the development of a particular apparatus or industry. College students, another contingent of library patrons, conduct economic surveys based on the number and type of patents that are issued annually.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh provides access to online tools that are available to the general public as well as to specialized tools that are available only onsite. In addition to online and print resources available for searching patents, staff members can learn more via in-house training on March 6, and we invite interested patrons to call our main number to arrange for group sessions.