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Commerce pledges to open patents, small biz data

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, December 10 2009

Soon, we're going to start bundling these announcements of new open government initiatives that every agency and their mom's are issuing these days, but it makes sense to give some love and attention to the early movers. Here, the Commerce Department details the the steps it's taking. It's worth keeping an eye on what Commerce does on this sort of thing, since it handles a lot of business information, much of it tied to individuals and organizations. How they manage pushing out high-value data sets while respecting the privacy of the folks who are tied to that data -- well, that's going to be worth watching. Here's what Secretary Gary Locke and his team at Commerce say they are doing in response to the White House call for open government:

The Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology committed to making information available on in an RSS feed related to:

1. Small Business Innovation Research opportunities

2. Publicly-funded technologies available for license

Along with five other federal agencies, NIST is working to increase access to information to empower innovators to find the information they need and receive real-time updates, which can fuel entrepreneurial momentum, create new jobs, and strengthen economic growth.

Additionally, the Commerce Department’s Patent and Trademark Office committed to making all patents, published patent applications, and related materials more easily searchable by the public online. The ability to sift through over 7 million patents on useful inventions, design patents, and plant patents will enable entrepreneurs to find patents on which to found new businesses and discover improvements leading to original patentable products and services.

With intellectual property-based businesses estimated to contribute nearly 40 percent of growth achieved by all U.S. private industry, the impact on jobs and the economy of more patent transparency is likely to be significant. As a step towards improved access to historical and current U.S. published patent data, the USPTO will begin posting this data online for free download through a third-party provider in the first quarter of calendar year 2010.