The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is giving top priority to inventors of homeland security technology. This is no small favor. "Typically, we're able to knock 14 to 15 months off the 17-month initial examination," says Steve Kunin, deputy commissioner for patent policy at the patent office. Surprisingly, the initiative to fast-track anti-terrorism technology was not prompted by 9/11. Actually, it was set in motion in September 1996 in response to the Oklahoma City bombing. At the time, the Clinton White House challenged government and the public to find ways to fight terrorism. The fast-track for counter-terrorism innovation was the patent office contribution. After 9/11, the initiative shifted from one of "counter terrorism" to "homeland security." Surprisingly, the volume of security-oriented patents did not jump noticeably after 9/11. "Interestingly enough, we haven't noticed any increase in petitions to make applications special [guv-speak for fast-track requests]," says Kunin. About 1% of all current applications come with a request for homeland-security fast track. "But that's no small number," says Kunin, "We receive 350,000 applications worldwide, so it's still 35,000." The patent office isn't combing through nifty inventions in search of security ideas, though. The applicant needs to identify the innovation as a security device, which must then pass through patent office criteria. The office, however, posts information about the initiative on its Website and explains what qualifies for fast-track attention to hundreds of daily callers.
Everyone has had the experience of trying to scrape the last of the peanut butter or mayonnaise from the bottom of a glass jar without getting your hand sticky. Inventor Ron Jidmar thinks he has a solution to all of that nonsense with a flexible jar design that can be squeezed with one hand to lift contents from the bottom to the top of a jar or container, leaving the other hand free to scoop the contents out cleanly.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.