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Visiting Scholars Program

Unofficial Gazette
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By Emerson Puente

The Patent and Trademark Society (PTOS) International Relations Committee coordinates several social events for the Visiting Scholars Program and pairs the scholars with mentors who assist them by answering any questions they may have regarding the USPTO and the surrounding DC metro area. The Visiting Scholars Program, which was established in 1985, provides intellectual property officials and representatives from various countries all over the world a two-week crash course of the United States' intellectual property system. The primary goals of the program include:

a. Fostering a better understanding of international intellectual property obligations and norms;

b. Using the U.S. system as an example, to expose participants to at least one method of providing Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs)-level protection for a variety of intellectual property disciplines; and

c. Promoting discussion of intellectual-property issues in a friendly and supportive environment.
The semi-annual event, which just recently finished its fall session (October 27-November 7), included participants from Benin, Cameroon, China, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ghana, Jordan, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Panama, Romania, Taiwan, and Thailand.

The program kicked off with a Welcome Breakfast, which provided the scholars an overview of the program. It was also the first opportunity for scholars to meet their mentor. Muffins and coffee were provided for the participants. In the afternoon, the scholars and mentors had a lunch reception at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, which included two guest speakers, the Commissioner of Trademarks, Anne Chasser, and Commissioner of Patents, Nicholas Godici. They both spoke in the middle of the luncheon, welcoming the visiting scholars and providing an overview of Trademarks and Patents. Later during the week, a potluck lunch was coordinated for the scholars. Mentors were asked to bring a dish for the potluck, which gave the scholars a taste of American cooking. The potluck concluded with ice cream sundaes, which allowed the scholars and mentors, alike, to use their creative ability to build a delicious sundae.

The second week of the program included a tour of National Air and Space museum, a “Night in Georgetown”, and a reception on Capital Hill. During the tour of the National Air and Space museum, the scholars and mentors were able to see hundreds of artifacts on display including the original Wright 1903 Flyer, the "Spirit of St. Louis," and Apollo 11 command module, as well as learn interesting facts about each piece of history. A “Night in Georgetown” was also planned for the participants, involving a dinner and a visit to a Jazz club. The festivities finished with a reception on Capital Hill in the Cannon House office building. With a Hollywood theme, scholars were able to see many PTOS members dressed up as their favorite actor or actress. The event allowed for scholars to mingle with not only mentors, but also other PTOS members throughout the night.

Through the mentorship program, USTPO employees are able to meet interesting people involved with intellectual property from other countries. The program also provides opportunity to learn about other cultures and traditions, as well as establish life long friendships with people across the globe. To be a mentor, one must be a USPTO employee affiliated with the Patent Trademark Office Society. Those interested in the future, please contact the PTOS International Relations Committee Co-Chairmen Tonia Meonske at