Thursday, October 16, 2008

New in the Patent and Trademark Center (kind of): some magazines

Tucked away in a little corner of the fifth floor of the Main Library, the Patent and Trademark Center is some really prime real estate. Insulated from the activity of the reference desks and the atrium, people who discover the room can enjoy reading by the sunlight coming through the same windows that look down over the UN Plaza (and the farmer's market on Wednesday and Sunday) and the Asian Art Museum. It's a comfortable, quiet, lovely place to be.

Admittedly, there is a bit of contrast between the warmth of the room and the, eh, clinical, nature of most of the material in there. We have a bunch of Indexes to Patents, lots of three-ring binders, and, of course, a couple of computers for CASSIS and the USPTO website. Some of the commercially published books we have in there are pretty interesting -- some histories of invention and technology, a couple of "wacky patent" type books, some popular guides to intellectual property -- but, for the most part, the reading material in the Patent and Trademark Center is all business.

Every once in a while, however, something more broadly appealing than, say, American Marking Gages comes along, something that (no offense to the hardworking author of the above title) could be of interest to a general audience. When that happens, I'd like to use this space to put the word out, so look out for the "New in the Patent and Trademark Center" posts to find out when fun, beautiful, or particularly interesting materials arrive. It doesn't happen very often, but you may be surprised by some of the things we get.

In the spirit of promoting some of our material, I'd like to present a couple of magazines that we subscribe to. We've had some subscription issues that caused a lapse in service, but the problems seem to be resolved and we are now receiving issues of surprisingly interesting titles, including the following:

American Heritage is a history magazine; American Heritage's Invention & Technology is about the history of, you guessed it, inventions and technological advances. It comes to us quarterly full of thoughtful writing about technology and great photos, both original and archival. Features in this summer's issue include a piece about the cameras on the Mars rover, innovations in gold mining, and a high-drama look at the early days of cinema.

Inventor's Digest's self assessment as "the magazine for idea people" is apt -- though centered on the needs and interests of inventors, the magazine transcends the narrow inventor audience by covering the culture of invention and inventors in a format that looks more like People than like wonky trade journal. There is plenty here for inventors and non-inventors alike. The November issue has tips on finding money to market inventions, connecting with large corporations to create business partnerships, and plenty of profiles of people making their ideas work for them.

It may not occur to you that a massive intergovernmental organization such as the United Nations would publish glossy magazines, but the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the intellectual property arm of the UN, puts out a handsome title called WIPO Magazine. It comes to us monthly and covers trends and happenings coming out of the increasingly important world of international intellectual property. The August issue (there's a bit of a lag because it comes to us free through the USPTO depository program) includes articles about the Chinese film industry, intellectual property as a business asset, and African home decoration design, among other things.

You can also access most of the content from these magazines online, but I'd like to suggest stopping by the Patent and Trademark Center to browse the titles on the shelf. Perhaps you'll be inspired.

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