Inventor? Entrepreneur? Investor? Whatever your role, if you’re in business, you need to be aware of Intellectual Property (IP). How it could hurt you – or how it could help you. And just what are your options anyway?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) – in collaboration with the National Institute of Standards (NIST) – have developed an IP Awareness Assessment. Before you start wondering why NIST – known for providing Cesium oscillator, accurate to 5 x 10-15 of a second, time signals – is assessing people’s awareness of IP, let me distract you by telling you that it is not an assessment. It is a self-help tool, aimed at identifying and providing you the resources necessary to understand and protect IP relevant to your business.
Located on the USPTO website http://j.mp/WWVHGj the so-called awareness assessment is a questionnaire with about 80 questions. Answering all of these would be tedious, especially for entrepreneurs already swamped with the thousand tasks a day needed to get an enterprise up and functioning. So wisely, the questionnaire is broken into two parts: a 10-or-less question, preliminary portion that establishes what your business is or does. Based on your answers to that, a customized assessment is presented, focused on the intellectual property options relevant to you. If you’re a masochist – or just wanting to be thorough – you can still opt for the full questionnaire.
On completing which ever questionnaire you select, an online, written document will appear, having prepared responses to all your selections. This may be three to five pages, but is broken into more manageable chunks aimed at specific aspects of IP that impact your business. There are also links to further training information, including video presentations, on most of the topics.
If you are new to intellectual property, this is a very good place to spend half an hour to find out the basics. Even if you are experienced in IP, it will be a half hour well spent as the questionnaire and answers will not only refresh your understanding but may very well provoke you to look into previously unconsidered possibilities.
As to why NIST and the USPTO collaborated on this project. Well it’s actually not as strange as it may first appear. Since 1988, NIST has been mandated by Congress to run the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). MEP’s mission is to “act as a strategic advisor to promote business growth and connect manufacturers to public and private resources essential for increased competitiveness and profitability” – so promoting access to IP resources fits right in. MEP has offices in all 50 states with the NJ chapter being online at http://www.njmep.org/. Worth visiting – just don’t ask them what time it is.