The Smithsonian and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have begun a five-year collaboration to develop programs and exhibitions related to American innovation. The USPTO will provide funding annually for public programs and exhibitions focusing on innovation and new technological developments from businesses, universities and the government. The collaboration will begin this year with a weekend festival at the National Air and Space Museum Nov. 1–2.
The collaboration is described in a Memorandum of Agreement signed by Smithsonian Under Secretary for Finance and Administration Albert Horvath and Chief Financial Officer for USPTO Anthony P. Scardino. The terms of the agreement call for reimbursements to the Smithsonian totaling up to $6.4 million for programs at the Smithsonian museums from now until 2019.
Future activities will include a festival in spring 2015 at the National Museum of American History; a family day and special programming for millennials, both at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and a major exhibition at the National Museum of American History on the subject of innovation in the renovated west wing of the museum when it reopens in summer 2015.
“Through this collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, we will create a program that not only celebrates American ingenuity but also reflects the 21st century expectations of our visitors,” said Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough.
“We look forward to implementing this new arrangement with the Smithsonian and providing opportunities for people of all ages to interact and learn about innovation in America while inspiring future generations of inventors,” said USPTO’s Deputy Director Michelle Lee.
The Smithsonian and the USPTO have worked together on several projects in the past, including three exhibitions: “The Great American Hall of Wonders” and “To Build a Better Mousetrap” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and an exhibition about Apple founder Steve Jobs’ patents in the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center. In November 2013, Smithsonian and the USPTO teamed up to present a family day at the National Museum of the American Indian featuring an interactive experience focusing on the science of acoustics.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office is the federal agency with responsibility for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks. In doing this, the USPTO fulfills the mandate of Article I, section 8, clause 8 of the Constitution that the executive branch “promote the progress of science and the useful arts by securing for limited times to inventors the exclusive right to their respective discoveries.”