Tech library to become a patent/trademark center

HOUGHTON – Michigan Technological University’s Van Pelt and Opie Library will be offering a new resource this fall. After nearly a year of communication, the Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property has officially designated the library as a Patent and Trademark Resource Center.

“We’ve been working on it since November of last year. It’s a little bit of a lengthy process that involves a lot of back and forth between the library and the US PTO (Patent and Trademark Office),” said Sarah Lucchesi, an instruction and learning librarian at Michigan Tech who played a main role in obtaining the designation. “The Patent office is actually very excited about us doing this – they’ve wanted one in the Upper Peninsula for a long time. They like to have one in every state and every one in Michigan is downstate, so this service hasn’t been available here.”

According to a press release, the motivation for seeking the PTRC designation was due to the dedication of Jim Baker, executive director of innovation and industry engagement, to instructing graduate students about patents. Christa Walck, associate provost, originally developed the program with extensive involvement by Baker and Nora Allred, copyright and scholarly communications librarian.

A PTRC is a valuable tool for individuals trying to obtain a patent or trademark and for researchers, Lucchesi explained. Part of the patent and trademark process involves researching other patents that may be similar to your own, which can be a cumbersome task without the proper resources. Researchers benefit from access to patents that contain technical information that may not be available elsewhere. The PTRC, which is funded by the US PTO, will be available to the public as well as to Michigan Tech students and faculty. PTRCs are not usually located in rural areas, Lucchesi said, so access to the information was limited for people in the Upper Peninsula and neighboring communities.

“The PTRC is meant by the US PTO to be open to everyone,” said Lucchesi. “There are some locations in lower Michigan and Wisconsin but it’s still pretty far so we see us working with people not only from the U.P. but from northern Wisconsin as well.”

This fall the PTRC will open with informational and training sessions. Although an official date for the opening event and workshops has not yet been decided, Lucchesi expects it to occur sometime between mid-October and early November. After the opening, the library will continue to run workshops, provide informational material and work with people on a one-on-one basis to help navigate the system.

“For most part everything is done online,” Lucchesi said. “We will be helping people search via the US patent searching website – which is free available to everyone – but we will also have access to official databases that only PTRCs have access to that help a lot and make the search process easier.”