Posted at 4:47 PM
Guest blog post by Thomas Beach, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Under Secretary and Director, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and Scott Beliveau, Open Data Team Lead, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Nobody doubts the value of data today, and the Obama Administration has taken many important steps towards making government data more open and accessible to the public. As Secretary Pritzker likes to remind us, the Department of Commerce is “America’s Data Agency,” and has a unique and central role in that transformation. Although open data feels like the flavor of the month for every government agency to tout, this is especially meaningful for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. The agency houses a treasure trove of data, and now has crystalized a path forward to better sharing it with the world.
Disclosing and disseminating data supports our broader mission of advancing American innovation. After all, the patent system rests on the trade-off between the disclosure of an invention and the right to exclude others from using it. From that perspective, the USPTO has been in the business of open data for a very long time. If we were going to live up to our mission in this interconnected, digital world of disseminating information about patents and trademarks, we knew we needed an agency-wide commitment to improve our data delivery on all fronts. And that was the spirit in which we hosted the USPTO Open Data Roundtable with NYU’s GovLab on December 8th.
The roundtable brought together diverse members of our user community, including industry representatives, prior art searchers, and academics, with USPTO’s data team.
As Deputy Under Secretary for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee stated in her remarks about the value of data to creating patent policy, “It is important that this very public, very important policy discussion take place, but it’s just as important that the discussion be informed by data. And it is my hope that our efforts to make our data more accessible will help us have that informed and earnest exchange of ideas.”
Over the course of the day, the USPTO was able to discuss its future plans for data dissemination and to receive feedback from our users. We heard loud and clear that we need to step up our engagement with the public on how we disseminate data and how we can improve the quality of that data. Most importantly, we began a conversation about the future of open data at the USPTO that we look forward to building on in the coming months and years. This continued conversation will include direct engagement with the developer community through Data Jams, Hackathons, and Datapaloozas that can take advantage of USPTO data sets and the forthcoming APIs for some of our most requested data.
Lynn Overmann, the Commerce Department’s new Deputy Chief Data Officer, summed up the day: "USPTO's Open Data roundtable was a great example of how valuable active user engagement can be for helping understand the needs of our data consumers, better target our releases and products and obtain key feedback on the Open Data road map. USPTO's approach can serve as a best practice across the Department of Commerce, one which we will encourage other bureaus to follow."