On Friday, October 15, 2010 and again on Saturday, October 16, 2010, the United States Trademark and Patent Office (USTPO) played host to the National Trademark Expo. That is no typo or clerical error. Director Kappos, who was introduced by Lynne Beresford, the Commissioner for Trademarks, started the day with an address and began by welcoming everyone to the United States Trademark and Patent Office — the USTPO. Kappos said: “in the spirit of the day, I am delighted to be the Director of the United States Trademark and Patent Office…” As you can imagine, the trademark enthusiasts in the room erupted in laughter and the day was off to a good start, with a friendly and fun tone set right out of the box. Later in the day when I spoke with Director Kappos he told me he cut his prepared remarks down because as he looked out at the audience full of children he could just imagine they were all wanting the talking to be over and the day to begin. The kids couldn’t wait to go see the trademark characters walking about the building.
The Trademark Expo is in its third year, and is growing remarkably. I was in attendance on Friday, as evidenced by my picture with the Chick-fil-A cow and the Famous Potato from Idaho (see right). After the day was over USPTO officials told me that they had been counting the number of people coming into the exhibit area and over the two day Expo in 2009 there were 7,000 people who attended and on Friday alone there were over 6,200 people who attended. I don’t have the full attendance statistics for the entire event yet, but Saturday was expected to be a big day with many USPTO employees expected to attend (voluntarily) and bring their families.
In Kappos’ remarks on Friday he said: “This Expo and the great success it has enjoyed over the past three years is just another example of the remarkable and extraordinary work Lynne Beresford and her trademark team do day in and day out.” There was no doubt that it was an excellent program with a decidedly educational bent. In truth, I really didn’t know what to expect. It was promoted as a free event, which it was, and a family friendly event. A family friendly event where companies would be displaying in exhibit format? It was easily a family friendly event and educational too. They had presentations throughout the day on various topics, including several presentations aimed specifically at kids. The presentation I went to on counterfeit goods was interesting and interactive. At the end of the presentation Susan Anthony, of the USPTO, engaged the audience by trying to get everyone to think like a counterfeiter, which reinforced the message of the core presentation by Scott Baldwin. It was a clever way to turn an educational presentation into an interactive, thought-provoking exercise.
If there was a theme it was character trademarks, as you will see by the photos below. As you walked around the exhibit area there were numerous educational banners explaining the value of trademarks, the harm counterfeits do and in one case explaining the virtues of character trademarks by saying: “Character trademarks are some of the most well-recognized faces and figures the marketing landscape.” That is certainly true indeed, and by the look of excitement on the faces of the many young children in attendance who were spell bound by the characters walking about the USPTO, a good time had by all!