USPTO puts tasty innovation on display

David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office

wfedstaff | June 3, 2015 7:16 am

By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor

Part of the mission of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is to “ensure that the intellectual property system contributes to a strong global economy, encourages investment in innovation, and fosters entrepreneurial spirit.”

In order to truly understand what the mission means in a hands-on practical way, director of USPTO, David Kappos, told Federal News Radio we only have to look as far as the dinner table.

Invention, innovation and trademarks, he said, can be found in “everything from what it takes to fry an egg, have a bowl of breakfast cereal, to enjoy a bag of potato chips. The preparation techniques for food, the purification techniques for food, the mechanisms used in making food.”


That’s the idea behind an exhibit at the the National Inventors Hall of Fame in the USPTO campus in Alexandria, called “Inventive Eats: Incredible Food Innovations.”

This is the first exhibit to come to the Hall since it was moved from Akron last year. Kappos said it’s “the museum that houses and champions innovation and invention as well as creativity through the trademark system for all Americans.”

Kappos said the museum, and this exhibit, are potent reminders of USPTO’s mission.

Seeing this exhibit and the nature of our alternating exhibits at the USPTO, juxtaposing them against one another reminded me of why we work for the USPTO and why we take innovation so seriously in this country. Starting with from our founding fathers putting a clause in the Constitution directly relating to innovation. And that’s that innovation is really about the American Dream and it’s about the American Experience. You see these people going back, way back… in the 19th century, early in the 19th century, and then trace them going forward into the 20th century and you see one major groundbreaking innovation after another that created new industries: the laser, the discovery of DNA, the creation of the personal computer, the internet, on and on and on and on – in this case, food related matters.

It’s a rare gift to be able to look Mr. Peanut® or the Pillsbury Doughboy® or the Green Giant® in the eye and see the spirit of America. Kappos has that gift.

But you see these major innovations, made here in the U.S. by innovators, frequently people working alone. Independent individuals, not folks with huge amounts of resources, that created gigantic new industries and it really gives you a feeling of optimism about our country, and it gives you… gives me a sense of the criticality that innovation plays to things that are really important like jobs and safe foods and healthy foods and healthcare and opportunity. Things that have always been important in our country, and what you see is they start right here at the USPTO.

You can see it for yourself, said Kappos, Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm and Saturdays from noon to 5 in the atrium of the Madison Building on the USPTO campus. Kappos said it’s “only about a 10 minute walk from the King Street Metro station” in Alexandria.