Monday, October 26, 2009

Arti Rai at Collegiate Inventors Award Ceremony

Remarks For Arti Rai
Collegiate Inventors Award Ceremony
October 20, 2009 (as prepared)


Thank you very much Neal. I can’t tell you what a great pleasure it is to have this ceremony as the first public event in my new role at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I am incredibly honored to be participating in tonight’s exciting finish to two days of intense competition between some of the brightest young minds in America. I might add that this event provides something of a soft landing for me since I come to government service from academia. I feel right at home tonight among all of these students—and one of them is from Duke University. How cool is that?

I also have been asked by David Kappos, Director of the USPTO, to personally congratulate all of the collegiate finalists. He would have loved to have been here tonight, but he had a prior commitment. David looks forward to attending this wonderful event in the future. He completely supports the USPTO’s long standing co-sponsorship of the Collegiate Inventors contest and all of the other inventor recognition and educational outreach programs of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. We are proud of our long association and the many joint projects we have undertaken over the last 15 years. We are particularly pleased that last spring our campus in Alexandria, Virginia became the home of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum. I hope that when you are in the Washington, DC area that you come visit this monument to the inventors who have transformed our lives.

Tonight we celebrate the achievements of the next generation of inventors. The innovation and creativity you represent give us all hope that America’s days as the technological center of the world will continue for decades to come. Innovation has always been the engine that has driven our economy, creating whole new industries and millions of jobs. In order for the US to maintain its competitive advantage, it must continue to lead on innovation. Economists overwhelmingly agree that innovation is the only sustainable source of competitiveness in the 21st century. And it will be the key to solving the many social problems we face, from climate change to affordable health care.

For over two centuries the United States Patent and Trademark Office has partnered with this country’s inventors by providing strong and speedy intellectual property protection. As I know from my research, and from my own sister’s experience with her biotech startup, inventors need this protection in order to attract research and development capital. The challenge we face at the USPTO is ensuring that inventors can always look to us for strong and speedy protection.

For inventions like yours, which are coming from universities, the patent system can enable them to reach the marketplace and thereby serve the public. In many cases, inventions that emerge from universities are prototypes, or proofs-of-concept, that require additional investment in order to become marketable. With the patent system’s exclusive rights, university inventors and their commercial partners have an economic incentive to scale up these prototypes.

Those of you who have participated in this competition, as well as thousands of other students in colleges and universities all across the country, are doing your part. Now we must do our part. I pledge to you tonight, on behalf of the 9,000 men and women of the USPTO, that we will fulfill our part of the bargain.

Since taking office a little over two months ago, Director Kappos has moved aggressively to reform the office, expedite the way in which we examine patents, update our IT infrastructure, and reach out to stakeholders and members of Congress to provide a sustainable funding mechanism for the USPTO. We are committed to using all of the tools at our disposal to reduce the amount of time it takes for inventors to get the patents they need to bring products to the marketplace. You will be hearing more in the months to come, so stay tuned and keep believing in your ability to change the world with your inventions.

We fully understand that we must do more to make sure that innovation continues to thrive in America. Two weeks ago at the White House, President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. This medal, which is the nation’s highest award for technological achievement, is administered by the USPTO. In his remarks, the President noted, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Maybe that something has been revealed on this stage tonight. Maybe that something is on a patent examiner’s computer right now. You as innovators and we as the guardians of intellectual property protection are partners in making sure that that next incredible “something” happens and realizes its greatest potential.

Thank you for doing your part. We will do ours. Best of luck tonight and in all that you do in the future.

For more information go to WWW.GAPATENTS.COM or WWW.GOOGLE.COM.

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