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Blog Entries from 2012

USPTO: Leading the Way on International Patent Harmonization

Nearly 80 percent of all patent applications filed worldwide are processed through five patent offices: Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the European Patent Office (EPO), the Japan Patent Office (JPO), the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO), and the State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO). In 2007, the five agencies formed a group called the IP5, to work on increased cooperation and collaboration. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos and Deputy Under Secretary Teresa Stanek Rea attended the 5th Meeting of IP5 Heads of Offices in Porticcio, France on June 6th.  

As the USPTO implements the America Invents Act (AIA), signed into law on September 16, 2011, by President Obama, America is poised to implement an optimal 21st Century harmonized patent system. This administration is leading the process of reshaping an IP world into one in which national and regional patent systems are coordinated to create an optimal environment for technological innovation.

At this high-level meeting, the Heads of Offices focused on receiving and analyzing input from IP owners regarding how to make the patent process more user-friendly. As part of that vision, they discussed the concept of a “Global Dossier,” aimed at simplifying procedures for patent applicants and improving the efficiency of the offices when dealing with the same patent application.

The IP5 also reaffirmed their commitment to improve the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which already enables patent applicants to seek simultaneous patent protection with a single international application for up to 145 countries.

This was the first-ever IP5 meeting featuring the Heads of Offices. The next meeting of all Heads of Offices will be held in the United States, hosted by the USPTO, in 2013.

The Law of the Sea Convention is Good for American Businesses

Guest blog post by U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson

This morning at Capitol Hill Oceans Week, I spoke about the key role that oceans play in our economic recovery. America’s waters have always been a strong economic engine. After all, more than half of Americans live in coastal watershed counties. And even though this area makes up only 17 percent of U.S. land area, those counties support about 66 million jobs. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that the blue economy is strong and growing.

And here is one thing we need to do to make sure that happens: ratify the Law of the Sea Convention. The U.S. Senate is now taking a hard look at having the U.S. join the Convention, which sets forth a comprehensive legal framework governing uses of the oceans. The Law of the Sea Convention will support American businesses and create American jobs, as well as bolster U.S. national security and promote energy security. We need to join the Convention now.

C-SPAN video

June 1, 2012: The Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins, Runs Through November 30

Satellite image of Hurricane Andrew, 1992

NOAA predicts a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season, Census offers related facts for features

Conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin this season, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week from Miami at its Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and home to the Hurricane Research Division.

For the entire six-month season, which begins June 1, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms (with top winds of 39 mph or higher), of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane (with top winds of 74 mph or higher) and of those one to three will become major hurricanes (with top winds of 111 mph or higher, ranking Category 3, 4 or 5). Based on the period 1981-2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes.

Hurricanes by the Numbers

Commerce's U.S. Census Bureau produces timely local statistics that are critical to emergency planning, preparedness and recovery efforts. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the number of people living in areas that could be most affected by these dramatic acts of nature, and more.

  • 37.3 million: Population as of July 1, 2011, of the coastal portion of states stretching from North Carolina to Texas—the areas most threatened by Atlantic hurricanes. Approximately 12 percent of the nation’s population live in these areas;
  • 7: The number of hurricanes during the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, four of them Category 3-strength or higher. Irene was the only hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. and one of the most costly and devastating;
  • 3: Top states for hurricane impacts from 1851-2011Florida (114), Texas (64), Louisiana (57);
  • 1992: Hurricane Andrew made landfall in Florida on Aug. 24, destroying a large swath of South Florida, most notably the city of Homestead. Andrew was the second-costliest tropical cyclone in U.S history and killed 23 in the U.S.

Spotlight on Commerce: Malcolm Lee, Director of the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning

Portrait of Lee

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

I am honored to serve as Counselor to the Secretary of Commerce, where I support Secretary Bryson and lead his Office of Policy and Strategic Planning.  I direct a team of policy advisors that works across the Department and Administration to implement President Obama’s America Built to Last blueprint through focus on a few key priorities:  increasing exports and investment, and strengthening U.S. manufacturing and innovation.  As Secretary Bryson has said, our mission at Commerce is to help American businesses “Build it here and sell it everywhere.”  As part of Secretary Locke and then Secretary Bryson’s senior staff, I have focused my time on economic relations with China, U.S. manufacturing and innovation, and cybersecurity.

I joined Commerce from Microsoft, where I directed international policy and strategy in headquarters, then moved to China as General Manager for China Policy and Strategy.  Prior to that, I served at the White House and State Department during the Clinton Administration as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, working on international trade, economic and technology policy.  

I graduated from Yale College, worked in the U.S. Senate, attended University of Pennsylvania Law School, then practiced trade law.  As a young lawyer, I served on the Immigration Committee of the Asian American Legal Defense Fund, and as pro bono General Counsel of the Organization of Chinese Americans.  Living in China in recent years, I was an elected governor of the American Chamber of Commerce in China and a member of the board of USITO, which represents U.S. technology companies in China.            

Weather-Readiness Transforms Businesses into Forces of Nature

Be a force of nature logo

With Atlantic hurricane season starting today, this week is national Hurricane Preparedness Week, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is teaming up with other federal partners to help get businesses and communities StormReady. Each year, Americans cope with an average of 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, and two landfalling hurricanes. The impacts of this weather have a significant effect on the U.S. economy. In fact, routine weather events in the U.S., such as rain and cooler-than-average days, can add up to an annual economic impact of as much as $485 billion, or about 3.4 percent of the 2008 gross domestic product (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, PDF).  
 
These effects are most keenly felt by those businesses that don’t reopen after a storm. The American Red Cross reports that as many as 40 percent of businesses fail following a disaster. But businesses that are weather-ready don’t have to be part of this statistic. They can be a force of nature by knowing their risk, taking preventative action and being an example for their community. NOAA and other federal partners have a number of tools available to help businesses better prepare for extreme weather.

R&D, Patents are Key Manufacturing Drivers Chief Economist Mark Doms Tells National Association for Business Economics 2012 Conference

SME Companies Share of Total US Goods Exports 2000-2010

This afternoon Chief Economist Mark Doms addressed the 2012 National Association for Business Economics (NABE) Industry Conference, themed “Making it in America: Manufacturing Matters” in Cleveland, OH.  Hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, this NABE industry conference focused on “the changing dynamics and rebalancing of U.S. manufactures in the global economy, focusing on its rejuvenation and new challenges and opportunities.” He previewed an upcoming ESA report showing that many communities depend critically on manufacturing, and these communities are spread all across the United States. That is because manufacturing provides the basis for many middle class jobs with good benefits.

  • Much of our country’s innovation comes from the manufacturing sector: close to 70 percent of our research and development and 90 percent of our patents.
  • Since the trough of manufacturing employment, firms have added about a half million new jobs. 
  • The manufacturing industry has been one of the leading contributors to GDP growth over the last two years, accounting for 38 percent of total economic growthIn 2011, the U.S. exported over $1.26 trillion worth of manufactured goods, more than double the amount in 2002.  Also, since the trough in 2009, manufactured goods exports are up 38 percent.
  • In particular, small and medium sized companies are increasingly contributing to our export growth, and they now make up over a third of total exports. 

That is why the Administration’s focus on manufacturing is so important. Doms highlighted what the Commerce Department is doing to help.

The Importance of Culture, Partnerships, and Perspective in Regional Economic Development

Economic Development Administration seal

Guest blog post by Paul J. Corson, Deputy Director of the U.S. Commerce Department Economic Development Administration’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Recently, as part of our ongoing series of public conference calls with members of the National Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (NACIE), we spoke with Dr. Christina Gabriel, president of the University Energy Partnership, a nonprofit organization that was founded jointly in 2010 by five major research universities in the Pittsburgh area, and Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan. Dr. Gabriel and Dr. Coleman, who both play leading roles in regional-based economic development in promoting the commercialization of research, stressed similar themes, including the importance of culture, partnerships, and perspective in regional economic development.

During her call on May 22, Dr. Gabriel emphasized the importance of leveraging local strengths. She noted that while foundations historically have embodied a regional perspective when it comes to economic development, many universities have only recently begun to do so. Universities possess very rich and diverse strengths that are best leveraged by applying them to difficult problems in collaborative efforts. For example, the University Energy Partnership was set up to leverage broad research efforts and applied technology developments in the energy space that has been developed over many years—not just in the Pittsburgh region, but throughout the four neighboring states.

In order to achieve success in regional cooperatives, Dr. Gabriel recommended that institutions focus on what their region is good at, and to build around that. She cautioned against blindly following the latest fad and hiring consultants to try and steal companies from other regions. By focusing on regional strengths, she said, even regions that have fewer resources—including those that have lost human and industry resources—can slow, and even reverse, these declines.

Plan to Stay in Business

Weston Markeplace was flooded when Tropical Storm Irene hit the state. FEMA is providing assistance to those who were impacted by Tropical Storm Storm Irene hit Vermont in 2011. Storm Irene hit Vermont in 2011. Irene. Photo by Annette Foglino/FEMA

Guest blog post by Dan Stoneking, Director, Private Sector, FEMA Office of External Affairs

I used to own a small business called Stoneking Graphic Design. I know first-hand how hard it was to build it in my small town in New Hampshire: Long hours. Little security. So I was particularly moved to hear about the Weston Market place in Vermont that was flooded last year during Hurricane Irene.

As a new hurricane season is upon us, I worry about the Weston Markets in other towns. Disasters not only devastate individuals and neighborhoods, but entire communities, including businesses of all sizes. For small business owners, having a business continuity plan can help protect their company, keep their employees safe, and maximize their chances of recovery after an emergency or disaster.

Ready Business, an extension of the Ready national disaster preparedness campaign, helps owners and managers of small- and medium-sized businesses prepare their employees, operations and assets in the event of an emergency. Ready Business asks companies to take three simple steps: plan to stay in business, encourage your people to become Ready, and protect your investment. The Business section of Ready.gov contains vital information for businesses on how to get started preparing their business and their unique needs during an emergency.

Spotlight on Commerce: Hari Sastry, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management

Hari Sastry, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Resource Management, my main responsibility is to support the Office of the Secretary to link Budget, Performance, and Risk Management with the strategic direction of the Department. The budget for the Department of Commerce is approximately $8 billion and contains numerous Presidential priorities including trade promotion and advance manufacturing as well as programs of national security such as weather prediction and export control enforcement. Furthermore, we are working with each bureau to create a uniform enterprise risk management framework to improve Department’s ability to understand the status of major programs and make decisions based on that information. Our office plays a critical role in supporting the President’s agenda, as we use performance and risk information to formulate the budget in accordance with the Administration’s priorities. My favorite part of this job is that both policy formulation and implementation come together as budgets are formulated, allowing me to get a complete picture of how public policy works.

I was born and grew up in Chicago, IL. My parents emigrated from India in the early 1970s and have lived in the Chicago area for most of my life. I received a BS in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, a Masters in Public Health from the University of Illinois-Chicago with a focus in Epidemiology, and moved to DC in 1997 to get a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University with a focus on health policy. I worked at the Office of Management and Budget for 11 years on veterans and military health issues prior to joining the Department of Commerce.

Spotlight on Commerce: Nishith Acharya, Director, Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior Adviser

Nishith Acharya, Director, Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior Adviser

Ed. Note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series, which highlights members of the Department of Commerce who are contributing to the president's vision of an America Built to Last.

As Director of the Office of Innovation & Entrepreneurship, my main responsibility is to manage and coordinate efforts to commercialize more of the research that is funded by the federal government.  The US government provides about $150 billion in research funds to universities, labs and companies annually, and we are finding ways for support greater commercial application of that research to create successful companies and jobs. We support the President’s Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, work with over 500 universities around the country on issues of innovation and entrepreneurship, and run the i6 Challenge, which is a $1 million award to six different winners each – focused on creating more commercial ventures at our research institutes.

Our office plays a critical role in supporting the President’s agenda.  America’s greatest advantage is its innovation infrastructure and its deep culture of entrepreneurship.  Our office supports the development and implementation of programs and policies to enhance that.  This includes funding for innovation centers, coordination with universities and federal labs, and communication with entrepreneurs directly to understand their challenges and needs from the Administration.  Supporting innovation is critical for sectors such as manufacturing and energy, and entrepreneurship can never be taught too early.

I grew up in Wayland, MA, just outside of Boston.  My parents emigrated from India in the 1960’s and have lived in the Boston area for most of my life. I got my BS in Political Science and Economics from Northeastern University in Boston, MA. and then moved to DC to get my Master’s in Public Administration from the George Washington University with a specialization in international development.