USPTO to Host Inventor Symposium at Smithsonian Oct. 27-28

As part of a series of programs complementing The Great American Hall of Wonders exhibition, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum will sponsor a free, two-day Inventors Symposium on October 27-28, 2011, in the museum’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium.

On Thursday, October 27, 2011, the first day will focus on the recently enacted America Invents Act and its impact on independent inventors and small businesses. Registration will begin open at 1pm with programming starting at 2pm and running through 5:30pm.  Thursday’s program will conclude with a networking reception from 5:30pm to 7:00pm.  Those who have attended USPTO events in the past know that these networking receptions are in many respects the highlight of the day.  USPTO Officials take time to mingle and speak with independent inventors who have questions or who just want to meet the people in charge of administering the Office.  USPTO networking receptions are among the best networking events you will likely ever attend.

USPTO Director David Kappos speaks to independent inventors at Conference on November 5, 2010.

Substantively, in terms of programming, on Thursday Senior USPTO officials will provide information about patents, trademarks and intellectual property protection. Presenters include by Debra Cohn (Commissioner for Trademarks) who will discuss the need for a trademark or a service mark, Peggy Focarino (Deputy Commissioner for Patents) who will discuss the impact of the newly enacted America Invents Act, and Federal Circuit Judge Jimmie Reyna who will discuss the U.S. intellectual property system.  There will be a panel discussion on the role of the independent inventor in today’s innovation society, which will include Theresa Rea (Deputy Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office), Congressman Mel Watt (North Carolina 12th District), Louis Foreman (Publisher of Inventors Digest, Producer of Everyday Edisons and Independent Inventor) and Chad Bouton (Research Leader, Battelle Memorial Institute Global Health and Life Sciences).

On Friday, October 28, 2011, sessions begin at 9am and will focus on how to start and grow a business including such topics as manufacturing, marketing, and licensing. The program will also feature government officials discussing programs designed to assist and support independent inventors and small business entrepreneurs. Presentations will include: (1) Marketing Your Invention; (2) Licensing vs. Direct Marketing; (3) Commercializing Intellectual Property through Licensing; (4) Starting and Growing a Successful Business in Today’s Economy; and (5) Energizing Your Technology: U.S. Department of Energy Initiatives and Opportunities.  The day will conclude with a docent guided tour of The Great American Hall of Wonders exhibition.

Those familiar with the USPTO know that the agency puts on some excellent educational events for independent inventors, and this Symposium at the Smithsonian will continue in a long line of excellent USPTO programs.

Most recently, in August 2011, the United States Patent and Trademark Office hosted an Independent Inventors Conference in Pasadena, California. This California Regional Conference was the west coast equivalent to the Independent Inventors Conference that has been held at the campus of the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia in previous years. The purpose for having this Pasadena Regional Conference was to try and bring the USPTO to other parts of the country and give inventors from a variety of locations the opportunity to interact with USPTO Officials without the need to travel to Alexandria.

Whenever I write about USPTO conferences, symposia and events for independent inventors I say: “Simply stated, if you are a serious inventor you need to go to this Conference.”  I really do believe that is true.  You will be amazed at how much useful information you can obtain, and meeting up close and personal with successful inventors and government Officials is both educational and inspiring.  It is sometimes easy to feel all alone as an independent inventor, facing a huge faceless bureaucracy as you attempt to do something that few of your friends and family really understand.  These events that cater to the independent inventor help you realize you are not alone and while the USPTO is a government agency — even a bureaucracy — there are dedicated people up and down the chain of command who really care about innovation and want to help independent inventors.  So be prepared to learn and be prepared to be inspired.  Also come armed with ideas and suggestions.   USPTO officials genuinely seem to want to hear what independent inventors are thinking and what they would find useful in the future.

So where else are you going to be able to meet Senior USPTO officials and talk to them one-on-one?  Even if you have to travel to Washington, DC and stay in a hotel for a couple nights you will get far more out of the Symposium than you will spend.  I understand money is tight, but serious inventors, whether they are newbies or old pros, will gain a tremendous amount of valuable information and personal connections by attending.

A nice spread set out for the networking reception at the November 2010 Independent Inventors Conference.


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