Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Grand Opening of Central Library's cafe!

 You're invited................. at 

Saint Louis Public Library, 1301 Olive Street, Saint Louis, MO 63103.


Free parking at Olive and 15th Streets.
Saint Louis University School of Law (SLULAW) is joining the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)'s Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program

Our neighbor to our Saint Louis Public Library Central Library's Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) is in the news:

Press Release, 14-22

USPTO Adds Additional Schools To Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program

Newly selected law schools to join the patent and trademark programs in fall 2014
Washington – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the selection of 19 law schools that will join the USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program this fall. Five law schools will join both the Patent and Trademark portions of the Program, four law schools will join the Patent portion of the Program, and ten law schools will join the Trademark portion of the Program.  These law schools join the 28 law schools currently participating in the Program.

The selection committees chose these schools based on their solid IP curricula, pro bono services to the public, and community networking and outreach.  The Program enables law students to practice patent and/or trademark law before the USPTO under the guidance of an approved faculty clinic supervisor.

“Expanding the USPTO’s Law School Clinic Certification Pilot Program will provide more students – future intellectual property lawyers – with the real-world experience and tools crucial to tackle the complexities of today’s IP law landscape,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee. “The addition of law schools and students in the program will also increase pro bono representation to American businesses and entrepreneurs, thereby helping ensure they have the resources to grow, create jobs and compete globally."

The law schools selected to participate in the Patent Program are: Brooklyn Law School; Indiana University School of Law; Lincoln Law School; New York Law School; South Texas College of Law; Southern Methodist University School of Law; Texas A&M University School of Law; University of California, Los Angeles School of Law; and University of Detroit School of Law.

The law schools selected to participate in the Trademark Program are: Indiana University School of Law; Lewis and Clark College School of Law; Lincoln Law School; Loyola University Chicago School of Law; Northwestern University School of Law; Roger Williams University School of Law; Saint Louis University School of Law; Southern Methodist University School of Law; Texas A&M University School of Law; The John Marshall Law School; University of California, Los Angeles School of Law; University of Idaho School of Law; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law; University of Tennessee School of Law; and Western New England University School of Law.

The participating law school clinical programs provide patent and trademark legal services to independent inventors and small businesses on a pro bono basis. Clinic clients can expect to receive searches and opinions, advice from clinic law students regarding their intellectual property (IP) needs under the supervision of a faculty practitioner, drafting and filing of applications, and representation before the USPTO. The law school clinical programs possess solid Intellectual Property curricula supporting a participating student’s hands-on learning in the Program; a commitment to networking in the community; comprehensive pro bono services; and excellent case management systems. Students in the patent and/or trademark portions of the Program can expect to draft and file applications and respond to Office Actions. Each law school clinic must meet and maintain the requirements for USPTO certification in order for student practitioners to practice before the USPTO.

For more information, contact Will Covey, Deputy General Counsel for Enrollment and Discipline and Director of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline, at (571) 272‐8898 or Will.Covey@uspto.gov.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Plant Patents and Exactly What Are They?

Today it is July, 2014, and as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) librarian, I can share with you the information that many United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and PTRC librarians already know, the only paper patents that we receive at our PTRC's are plant patents. According to the USPTO, due to the nature of color photography, plant patents will probably always remain. Design and utility patents are no longer printed and sent to us in a paper format. Instead, everyone can access them via the www.uspto.gov web site, or using PubEast or PubWest. All which are accessible at the Saint Louis Public Library PTRC, seven days a week.

"What is a plant patent?" you may ask. Well,  defined by the USPTO, a plant patent is "granted by the Government to an inventor (or the inventor's heirs or assigns) who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and  new variety of plant, other than an edible tuber propagated plant or a plant found in a uncultivated state."

"How long does a plant patent last?" you may wonder. According to the USPTO, "the grant lasts for 20 years from the date of filing the application (or if the application claims priority under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365(c) to an earlier-filed application, 20 years from the earliest filing date for which a benefit is claimed under 35 U.S.C. 120, 121 or 365 (c))."

Next, you may ask, "What does a plant patent do?"Again, as defined by the USPTO, a plant patent  "... protects the inventor's right to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling, or using the plant so reproduced or any of its parts throughout the United States, or from importing the plant so reproduced, or any parts thereof.  This protection is limited to a plant in its ordinary meaning:
  •  A living plant organism which expresses a set of characteristics determined by its single, genetic makeup or genotype, which can be duplicated through asexual reproduction, but which can not otherwise be "made" or "manufactured."
  • Sports, mutants, hydrids, and transformed plants are comprehended;  sport of mutants may be spontaneous or induced. Hybrids may be natural, from a planned breeding program,or somatic in source.  While natural, from a planned breeding program, or somatic in source. While natural plant mutants might have naturally occurred, they must have been discovered in a cultivated area.
  • Algae and macro fungi are regarded as plants, but bacteria are not."
Please visit our SLPL PTRC if you are interested to actually see a plant patent. We store all plant patents from the USPTO in our off-site Compton location. Weekly I received brown envelopes from the USPTO filled with newly approved plant patents. After I receive two inches of unbound plant patents, I prepare them into a format that I then send to get bound. It usually takes several weeks before they are returned from the bindery. If there is a specific plant that you are interested to see their plant patent, if there is one, please give me a call at (314) 539-0390, and ask for the Patent and Trademark Librarian and I will try to help you locate one.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's Learn About the New Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC)

What is CPC?

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) was initiated as a joint partnership between the USPTO and the European Patent Office (EPO) where the Offices have agreed to harmonize their existing classification systems (ECLA and USPC, respectively) and migrate towards a common classification scheme.  This was a strategic decision by both offices and is seen as an important step towards advancing harmonization efforts currently being undertaken through the IP5's Working Group 1 on Classification. 

Beginning on January 1, 2015, the CPC will be used to classify patents that are approved by the USPTO. Actually,  the conversion to CPC by the USPTO has already been occurring. By January 1, 2015, the conversion by the USPTO will provide an up-to-date classification system that is internationally compatible.   This is really neat, as you can then be able to search in Europe and the United States using the same classification numbering system. This partnership has developed a common, internationally compatible classification system for technical documents, in particular patent publications, which will be used by both offices in the patent granting process.

CPC and IPC present the same hierachical structure, from sections to groups.  All information available in IPC is also available in CPC and classified practically in the same way.  CPC does not have many more subdivisions than the IPC, that is, many more subgroups.  An IPC group is not used in the CPC.

The CPC is constantly revised in collaboration between USPTO and EPO experts.  The revision process is flexible enough as to ensure the structure is up-to-date.  The CPC is an international, fexible, and highly specific classification scheme, which takes the patent world one step further towards global harmonization.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How to request a patent and trademark librarian to visit your school, office, or group in Saint Louis, Missouri?

Throughout the year we often get requests from school teachers, intellectual property university professors and librarians, businesses, and others to visit and give a two hour presentation about patents and trademarks to their staff. The opportunity to do outreach is very exciting! It provides patent and trademark librarians to share information about inventions and how to request a patent or trademark. 

If you are interested to have the patent and trademark librarian come to visit your school or workplace in the Saint Louis proximity, please send an email to sfraser@slpl.org.  Include your name, contact information, who your audience is, how many in your audience, and when you are interested to have a visit from the patent and trademark librarian.

Whether you are learning about patents and trademarks for the first time, or an old pro, there is always something new to learn about searching for patents and trademarks. Please keep in mind when you request a visit that we have to schedule it into our calendar. It could take as little as a fews days, to a few months, depending on staffing and time required to prepare a presentation.

Looking forward to teaching others about United States Patent and Trademark searches.

Monday, June 9, 2014

African-American Women Inventors in America

Have you ever wondered how many inventors there are of different cultures? This information is not kept by the United States Government when you apply for a patent. It is not the practice of the United States Patent and Trademark Office to identify what cultural background a patentee is from. Instead, over the years, authors have researched who was an African-American inventor. They have published books and pamphlets on this topic.

In two days I will be presenting a new workshop on how to research a patent idea. I will be explaining, using laptops so class attendees can see for themselves how it is done (see the United States Patent and Trademark web site:  http://www.uspto.gov for more details). During my new workshop, I will be giving examples of African-American patent holders, specifically African-American women inventors.

Did you know that in 1892 Sarah Boone invented the ironing board (Patent No. 473,653)? Or that in 1959 Bertha Berman invented the fitted bed sheet (Patent No. 2,907,055)? These two African-American women were ingenious to invent something that is now used by pretty much everyone in North America.What they invented was practical to the public. For a period of twenty years, owning a patent means that the inventor can reap the profits of their invention.

As many friends know, I am a knitter, so it was a nice surprise to learn that on December 15, 1896, Julia Terry Hammonds invented an Apparatus for Holding Yarn Skeins (Patent No. 572,985).  Many inventions often arise because of them making the inventors life easier. Not everyone wants to hold their hands out in front of them, a few feet apart, so you can wind your yarn around them and create a ball of yarn for your next knitting project. Of course, once a patent has expired, which is after a twenty-year period, industries may develop a similar idea without a licensing cost. That is probably what you might see today in a knitting store that is selling yarn that still requires it to be wound into a ball.

A very useful reference source for researching African-American Inventors was written by Frank H. Schaller. In 2006, he published, "African American Women Inventors, 1884-2003." He provides a chronological index of seventy-four African-American women inventors. Schaller is a registered patent agent.

To learn more about African-American women inventors come browse the following books at the Saint Louis Public Library:

Burt, McKinley. Jr.  1989.  Black Inventors of America.
                Portland, OR:  National Book Company.

Holmes, Keith C.  2008.  Black Inventors Crafting Over 200 Years of Success.
               Brooklyn, NY:  Global Black Inventors Research Projects, Inc.

Martin, Velma L.  1997.  Inventions & Patents of African Americans.
                St. Louis, MO:  St. Louis Public Library.

Schaller, Frank H.  2007.  African American Women Inventors 1884-2003.
                Needham, MA:  The Author.

Sluby, Patricia Carter.  2004.  The Inventive Spirit of African Americans.
                Westport, CT:  Praeger Publishers. 

Wilson, Donald and Jane.  2003. The Pride of African American History.
               Birmingham, MI:  DCW Publishing Company.

Friday, May 30, 2014

What is PubEast and where can I find training on it? When you submit your patent applications, United States Patent and Trademark Office has examiners that will review your patent application. They are experts in their field. Examiners are not necessarily attorneys, but are experts in their field, such as mechanical engineers, chemists, and botanists. They are also able to work from home.

These examiners are able to use an automated search tool called PubEast. E stands for examiner, A for automated, S for search, and T for tool. Until 2014, PubEast was only available to the public at the Public Search Facility located in the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA.  Here you can find paralegals and others who are working for attorneys from across the United States doing patent searches using PubEast. So, it is a great opportunity for patent searchers to learn how to search the way patent examiners do, from any of the 84 Patent and Trademark Resource Centers located across the United States.

Why would I want to use a more complex search tool, you may ask? Well, once you learn how to use PubEast, a software interface, you will be able to access multiple patent databases. Each database has it's own unique index that is used to find a search. These databases include:

US-PG PUB - Pre-grant published applications. Beginning March 15, 2001, utility applications that have been pending for 18 months have been published for searching / viewing.

US PAT - U.S. Patents. Contains full text of most patents issued from 1971 to the present. Updated weekly as patents are issued. This database includes some minimal information of all other U.S. patents back to 1790. Such information includes patent number, publication date, and current classification information.

USOCR - Scanned patents (unedited scanned file). U.S. patents issued between 1920 - 1970 and patents that are missing from the USPAT file from 1971-1976. The data was loaded using the process of Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The patent copies were scanned with no text editing performed.

FPRS - Foreign Patent Retrieval System. Retrieval of an incomplete data set of foreign patent documents from varying countries and dates.

EPO - European Patent Office Patents.  Published documents from the European Patent Office (EP), selected EPO member countries including Switzerland - CH, Germany - DE, France - FR, Great Britain -GB, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WO). English language abstracts are searched for these documents.

JPO - Japanese Patent Office.  English language abstracts of unexamined Japanese patent applications beginning October, 1976.

DERWENT - Patents from over 40 countries.  Published documents from the DERWENT DWPI database which includes patents from over 40 countries beginning on August 1, 1961.  

Each database has indexes which you can use to restrict a search.  The default is the entire database. All indexes are not in each database.

So, if you are interested to search like a patent examiner, come visit the Saint Louis Public Library Patent and Trademark Resource Center, located in the Science/Technology Room in our Central Library located at 1301 Olive Street, Saint Louis, MO 63103. We have two dedicated computers for searching PubEast. If you are interested to learn about PubEast, please call our PTRC at (314) 539-0390 or send an email to sfraser@slpl.org to schedule your visit.  Stay tuned for PubEast workshops later this year!