USPTO Holds 2d Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium

Renee Quinn speaking at WES in Shreveport, LA.

On Sunday March 25 and Monday March 26, 2012, I attended the Second Annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium (WES) in Shreveport, LA.  The event was hosted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Honor of Women’s History Month and was put together in collaboration with U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA) and the city of Shreveport, Louisiana.  WES was held at the Shreveport Convention Center and focused primarily on women entrepreneurs, innovation and the importance of intellectual property to business.  I was honored to accept an invitation to present at this year’s event on social media and the importance of developing and leveraging online business relationships.

The program featured Senator Landrieu, who is chair of the Senate’s Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship as the symposium’s keynote speaker as well as the Mayor of Shreveport, Mayor Cedric B Glover who gave the welcoming remarks on day 1 of the event. The program additionally included the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Teresa (Terry) Stanek Rea, Director of Inventor Education, Outreach and Recognition (USPTO) Elizabeth Dougherty, Director of Research and Policy at the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) Julia Kurnik as well as successful entrepreneurs and other experts in the field of intellectual property law and small business.

In a press release prior to the event, Senator Landrieu had this to say:

America is still the world’s greatest home for innovation and entrepreneurship.  In fact, the U.S. filed more than twice as many patents as any other country in 2010 and small businesses develop more patents per employee than larger businesses.   The Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium will recognize the key role that women play in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.  This event is also a great opportunity for companies and innovators, both men and women, to interact with officials from the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) and network with other Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas entrepreneurs.   I am pleased that USPTO agreed to hold this event in northeast Louisiana, so we can keep Shreveport-Bossier and the state of Louisiana on the cutting edge of new products and technology.

During the event we had some very dynamic speakers, on a variety of topics.  Following is a brief recap of each of the speakers and their topics of discussion along with a photo diary of the event.

Day 1.

Cedric B. Glover is the first African American Mayor of Shreveport LA, made the welcoming remarks at the start of the event.

From Left to Right: Valencia Martin Wallace, Mindy Bickel and Liz Dougherty.

Mindy Bickel is the Administrator of the Patents Ombudsman Program at the USPTO gave a brief overview of the Conference letting attendees know what they could expect.

Valencia Martin Wallace is the Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Electrical Disciplines at the USPTO Discussed how the USPTO supports innovation and encourages Entrepreneurship.

Elizabeth Dougherty is the Director of Inventor Education, Outreach and Recognition at the USPTO gave an overview of the USPTO and talked about patents.  She discussed the fact that there are still 650,000 patent applications lying in wait at the USPTO that still need to be reviewed.  She also told a funny story about Apple’s Trademark was originally rejected because of its similarity to Apple Records.  However, when the USPTO approached apple on this, they said, “Oh, We just sell computers, we’ll never deal in music…” We all laughed because Apple is now the #1 distributor of music.

From Left to Right: Montia Givens Pressey, Martha McKenzie and Lisa Price.

Montia Givens Pressey is a staff Attorney for the Office of the Commissioner for Trademarks at the USPTO gave an overview of the life of a trademark.  She talked about official trademark registrations, going into 4 levels of the distinctiveness/descriptiveness continuum.

Martha McKenzie is a serial inventor.  She shared her stories with us on how she developed and patented her Sportz Bloc skin tone sun block and her Hanger Holder, which has been selling in the Container store for the last 8 years.

Lisa Price a trademark holder of “Carol’s Daughter.”  She talked about how she took her hobby of mixing up fragrances and creams and turned it into a multi-million dollar company.  Today company sells millions of dollars in products, employs more than 80 people and has 9 stores across the US.  She especially piqued my interest when she mentioned that she works hand in hand with my favorite R & B singer of all time Mary J. Blige.  Mary along with Steve Stoute started FFAWN, the Foundation for the Achievement of Women Now.  The foundation is dedicated to empowering women and instilling confidence so that they may achieve their dreams through education, empowerment and encouragement.

Day 2

Left: Senator Mary Landrieu is greeted by USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Rea; Right: Senator Landrieu addresses attendees.

During day 2 opening remarks, Senator Mary Landrieu discussed topics such as the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) which she promotes, Small Business Development CentersHR 3606 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which she and 19 others opposed, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership of LA (MEPOL), the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) and the Innovation through the Multidisciplinary Projects and Collaborative Teams (IMPaCT) program at Louisiana Tech.

From Left to Right: Julia Kurnick, Dr. Jenna Carpenter and Jack Sharp.

Julia Kurnik is the Director of Research and Policy at the National Women’s Business Council.  She discussed the NWBC research that the recently completed on Intellectual Property & Women Entrepreneurship.  She told us that the percentage of all patents granted to women in 2010 was around 18%. Their research was based on the first names of the inventors whose patents that have been filed over the years.  They used a database of all of the most common US and foreign women’s names. It also looked at both category and industry, reporting that the top categories for women-owned patents were chemistry, bio-affecting drugs, semiconductor device manufacturing and furnishings.

Dr. Carpenter is the Dean of Administration & Strategic Initiatives for the College of Engineering & Science at Louisiana Tech.  She spoke about how Louisiana Tech University is facilitating innovation and entrepreneurship

Jack Sharp is the President and CEO of the Biomedical Research Foundation talked about the BRI (Biomedical Research Institute), which is connected to the Louisiana State University Health Sciences in Shreveport LA.  Jack discussed the research they are currently conducting on a variety of diseases and sciences.  The research is focused on areas such as the Cancer Center of Excellence, Inflammation & Immunology, Ischemic Disorders, Neuroscience, Signal Transduction, Alcohol & Drug Abuse and Research Core Facility 

During her lunchtime Keynote Speech, Teresa Stanek Rea talked about the impact that women have had in the field of Intellectual property.  In fact she pointed out that 3 of the top 4 leaders at the USPTO are all women; Commissioner for Trademarks, Deborah Cohn, Commissioner for Patents, Margaret A. (Peggy) Focarino and herslf as the Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO

Amy Guidry Oak and Jane Allison

During 2 breakout sessions both before lunch and again at the end of the day, Montia Givens Pressey and Mindy Bickel discussed the importance of both Patents and Trademarks as tools to increase the business growth.  They talked about what types of patents and trademarks to file, the processes of filing them and what the costs in filing fees inventors are faced with throughout the process.

Amy Guidry Oak is the Program Director of the Enterprise Consortium of the Gulf CoastJane Allison is the Project Coordinator for the Louisiana Small Business Development Centers (LSBDC) at the Louisiana State University.   During 2 breakout sessions both before lunch and again at the end of the day, Amy discussed the local resources that the Enterprise Consortium of the Gulf Coast has to offer women who own their own businesses.  Jane discussed the many resources that Louisiana Small Business Development Centers at the Louisiana State University have to offer small business owners.

Liz Dougherty in the background looks on as Karen (left) and Renee (right) answer questions.

Karen Wakman is the President of Product for Profit, LLC.  Karen discussed how inventors and entrepreneurs could get their products sold at retail, including retail Giants such as Wal-Mart.   She made an interesting statement,  “It’s all about the packaging. Some sellers will sell the same thing for different purposes, just change the packaging.”  She said the buyers are utterly important.  I have gotten more products in retail through assistant buyers than anyone. Most Walmart stores have local buyers programs.”  She also recommended that inventors not get discouraged by no’s but instead use them as a way to tweak their products and make them more desirable to retailers and chains. 

My primary goal with educating others in social media is to Make Social Media Easy.  My topic of discussion was on how to develop business relationships in social media and how to leverage those relationships to drive growth in businesses.  I explained the importance of being consistent and gave some examples of ways to seek out the people you want to meet.  My focus was on the big three, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, giving pointers on ways to improve profiles and make it easier for others to find you.

Cathie Kirik of the Office of Innovation Development at the USPTO and Elizabeth Dougherty.  Thank you ladies for such a wonderful event!


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Join the Discussion

2 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Renee C. Quinn]
    Renee C. Quinn
    April 9, 2012 03:33 pm


    Thank you for taking the time to comment. It was a pleasure to mention you in the article. I am glad that you were happy to see it. Feel free to tweet about it and to tell you FB fans as well. I’ll email you my information as well!


  • [Avatar for Martha McKenzie]
    Martha McKenzie
    April 9, 2012 02:30 pm


    Great article. I was so excited when I read the article and certainly wasn’t expecting to see my name. Thank you, thank you! I have been looking for your card you gave me at the meeting. Please email me your number and information.
    Martha McKenzie