USPTO’s experts, resources, and women’s entrepreneur panel are major impacts at world-renowned Consumer Electronics Show

The USPTO, CES, and IP go together like children and ABCs.

The largest intellectual property (IP) organization in the United States—the country with the world’s largest economy—again commanded a significant presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 9-12 in Las Vegas. America’s largest technology trade show, with more than 135,000 attendees, 4,300 exhibiting companies, and over 1,400 startups, also hosted a fireside chat, “Protecting America’s Best Ideas: A Conversation with USPTO Director Kathi Vidal,” on January 9 and an illuminating hour-long USPTO panel, “Empowering Women’s Entrepreneurship: Leading Women Leading Change,” on January 11.

USPTO staff met with stakeholders of all kinds to share information and resources about protecting IP. Part of that mission is informing the public about the USPTO’s latest programs and activities, while learning about customer needs.

“We get questions about protecting IP in multiple countries,” said Paul Rosenthal, communications manager at the USPTO. “And we give suggestions on who to reach out to if the USPTO is not the right resource. It’s a wide spectrum.”

One strong focus of the show for the USPTO is a segment called Eureka Park (appropriately registered as a trademark), which CES calls the “Launching Pad of Innovation.” Showcasing hundreds of startup businesses from around the world, booths at Eureka Park are an endless parade of high-tech wizardry and next-generation innovation covered by media throughout the world.

Rosenthal said the USPTO was first invited to CES about 10 years ago. “We had a small exhibit booth set up for a couple of years to test the waters. And by 2019, we were collaborating with other government agencies to create the presence you see today at Eureka Park.”

The USPTO is very hands-on in helping stakeholders at the event.

“We’ve helped people new to IP protection understand the difference between a patent and a trademark,” Rosenthal said, “and how they can use both to help build success.

“We’ve helped many people walk through the sometimes-complicated processes and rules so they’re not as daunting as when you may first encounter them. And we can walk them through our website so they can understand how to use our patent and trademark search tools.”

The USPTO has also established a U.S. government exhibit pavilion where CES attendees can learn directly from government experts.

Rosenthal added: “Over the last few years, in fact, we’ve invited other government agencies that provide related services to the public to come join us. So, visitors can also get information, advice, or leads on grants and loans from agencies such as the Small Business Association, or even from some elements of the Department of Defense.”

The USPTO’s information-based presence was complemented by a fireside chat and panel on women’s entrepreneurship that provided insight and encouragement.

AI’s role in innovation, IP protection for start-ups, inclusive innovation, and what government can do to help were topics discussed during the fireside chat on the Eureka Park Startup Stage between Tiffany Moore, senior vice president, Political and Industry Affairs at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Kathi Vidal.

Money, IP, and mentorship were identified as the three most important components for women entrepreneurs by the panel hosted by Director Vidal.

Joining Director Vidal were Katherine Dei Cas, executive vice president, delivery systems and services, EMD Electronics; Suezette Robotham, senior director, executive recruiting equality strategy, Salesforce; and Sonia Wadhawan, director, global business development, Google LLC.

All panelists sounded optimistic tones in the face of historic and continuing challenges for women in business.

Responding to Vidal’s question about how women entrepreneurs can increase their chances of receiving venture capital funding—a chronic problem area for them—Dei Cas said: “The first thing that it starts with is just asking. Asking how you can do that. … Look at ways that you can find ways to open the doors, because there are so many opportunities.

“There are so many different ways, through the U.S. government as an example, that can help with some of those things, where there are traditional barriers to venture capital.”

Vidal said it was “a success story” that the Consumer Technology Association and CES facilitated the discussion. “That’s CTA and CES investing in you, whether you’re online, whether you’re in the room. It’s them recognizing we need more women in entrepreneurship, we need it for so many reasons, and they’re doing their part as well.”