The University of Iowa Lichtenberger Engineering Library is now part of a select group of higher education institutions across the country—and the only one in Iowa—to be designated a Patent and Trademark Resource Center (PTRC) by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

The PTRC is a resource for those with personally owned inventions, such as student inventors and inventors from the community. It offers individuals from the university and throughout the state the ability to tap into the rich services provided by the USPTO’s vast networks of experts on intellectual property, which includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. It also serves as a resource for University of Iowa Research Foundation (UIRF) staff as they work to protect faculty inventions owned by the university.

“The Lichtenberger Engineering Library has an abundance of experience promoting and delivering information and instruction services to the campus community and public, which is an essential element of the mission of the UI Libraries and university,” said John Culshaw, Jack B. King University Librarian. “We’re very pleased to now have this opportunity for our skilled and dedicated librarians to continue collaborating to serve individuals looking to develop something impactful.”

“We congratulate the Lichtenberger Engineering Library for undertaking this initiative, and the USPTO looks forward to working together to extend these important opportunities to as many individuals as possible,” said Robert Berry, manager of the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Program, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The Lichtenberger Engineering Library offers a number of ways to learn more about intellectual property and how to access patent records, including one-on-one assistance, trainings, and workshops. It also collaborates with a number of campus partners such as the UIRF, which is part of the Office of the Vice President for Research; the College of Engineering; the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (Iowa JPEC); the Pomerantz Business Library; and others.

The Lichtenberger Engineering Library also maintains an active instructional schedule, which includes on-campus lectures and classes covering intellectual property topics as a part of its information literacy program. These sessions are available as for-credit classroom work as well as open to the public.

The UIRF works to obtain intellectual property protection on innovations created by researchers through their work at the university and partners with industry for the commercial development of new products and services. While the UIRF manages patent protection for university-owned inventions, until now there has been no resource on campus for those with personally owned inventions. In addition, access to patent records can serve as an asset for university faculty conducting basic research—often scientific discoveries, especially those from industry, end up in published patent applications even if they are never published in traditional academic journals.

“UIRF is particularly excited that this resource is now available for our faculty start-up companies,” said Marie Kerbeshian, assistant vice president and executive director for the UIRF. “As these companies create their own intellectual property independent of the university, they are now able to seek advice that will help them develop a strong intellectual property portfolio.”


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