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The White House's National Science and Technology Council Recognizes NIST and USPTO for Open Innovation Efforts

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The White House's National Science and Technology Council Recognized Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for their open innovation efforts [PDF]. NIST's efforts to encourage market transparency and USPTO's leadership in public/private data access have the potential to scale within and across Federal agencies through interagency policy and implementation groups. By leading in this open government initiative, NIST and USPTO set the stage for entrepreneurs to out-innovate our international competitors and win the future.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office was recognized for its efforts in democratizing government data, supporting President Obama's initiatives to usher in a new era in which the gap between the American people and their government would close. USPTO initially faced some problems in its effort to publish its data online in a free and open format. The Office had traditionally been providing data through a paid subscription service. It also didn't have funding for technology to publish information online in an open format that could easily be retrieved, downloaded, indexed and searched by commonly used web search applications.

The USPTO opted to partner with Google in a no-cost agreement in which Google agreed to disseminate USPTO's bulk electronic patent and trademark data to the public at no charge. The electronic data includes images and text of patent grants and published applications, trademark applications, patent classification information and patent and trademark assignments.

In the end, nearly two terabytes of data, representing patent and trademark data back to 1790, is now available to the public free of charge on Google, with some 13GB of new data added weekly.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology also received recognition for its efforts in encouraging market transparency with its ongoing coordination of standards for the Smart Grid, the next-generation U.S power grid currently under development. After being called upon by Congress in 2007 to take responsibility for this task, NIST, in collaboration with the Department of Energy, faced the challenge of ensuring the myriad products and services that could connect to the Smart Grid would be able to operate together seamlessly.

To meet this challenge, NIST established a public/private forum called the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) to develop important supports for standards, including a testing and certification framework and a “Catalog of Standards” to hold descriptive information about the standards. The SGIP has grown to more than 680 member organizations drawn from more than 20 stakeholder types, from utilities to manufacturing to government. All interested stakeholders are invited to join the SGIP, whose activities are publicly accessible via an open wiki to simplify stakeholder access.

Through open collaboration, the SGIP identified 19 standards development projects called “priority action plans” to expedite development of needed standards. Thus far, the SGIP has produced six standards that have been entered into the Catalog, and is at work on many more.

“The SGIP is a good example of how to establish a public-private partnership,” said NIST’s George Arnold, National Coordinator for Smart Grid Interoperability. “It aligns the varied interests of  private and public sector stakeholders by government playing a convening and mediating role in order to address a complex national priority.”

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