The Olive Tree
Inventors, scientists, engineers, and historians alike regularly visit Maine's only Patent and Trademark Depository Library (PTDL) at Fogler. Science and Engineering Center Librarian Nancy Adams runs the PTDL. Working in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the PTDL offers many free services to the public, including access to print and CD-ROM resources published by the USPTO, use of full text of all U.S. patents issued from 1790 to the present and USPTO publications dating back to the mid-1800's, and access to a full reference collection of "how to" patent and trademark books. In the past year, the library has received over 160 phone calls, emails, and visitors requesting information or assistance regarding patent and trademark searches.
Patent and trademark searches prove very valuable to everyone from small business owners to genealogists. Searches are relatively easy to perform, requiring as little as two hours in the library. Conducting a search saves time, money, and effort, since the application to patent ideas with the USPTO includes a non-refundable fee. Patent and trademark searches also benefit patent attorneys' clients by informing them of what kind of inventions have already been patented. In addition to this, if an idea has already been patented, someone conducting a search may be inspired to find new ways of improving it.
During her time at the PTDL, Adams has seen and made a lot of improvements. Much of her work is computer-based; she regularly updates the PTDL web site and has created a link to Maine's trademark database, among other web sites. Now that all existing trademarks can be researched on the Web, Adams has written step-by-step instructions for performing such searches. And where one could only view abstracts before, the patent database on the Web dating back to 1790 now includes full patent text and illustrations. Adams' most ambitious undertaking, however, is the creation of a database for all Maine patents from 1820 to 1920. The database gives users access to Maine patents on the Web, and is one of the only databases of its kind in the country. The finished product will be accessible from the PTDL web site and will allow users to search the database with a patent number, date, or keyword. Users will be able find information on everything from antiques to an ancestor's patent. The project has been a fascinating one for Adams, who revealed that the earliest patent that she has entered so far dates back to 1810 when Maine was only classified as a "district" of Massachusetts.
When Adams is not busy creating databases and assisting users with their searches, she also delivers seminars directed at science and engineering students and small businesses. She is even planning to teach part of a proposed new one-credit course on intellectual property for engineers in the Fall of 2001. In addition, she attends the PTDL seminar in Washington, DC every year to learn about new websites and network ideas with other PTDL librarians.
Anyone wishing to receive free training and assistance for a patent or trademark search is encouraged to call Nancy Adams at (207) 581-1678 or email her at email@example.com to make an appointment.