and innovation are the norm for Silicon Valley. In 2005, 11% of all U.S. patents were granted to Silicon Valley inventors while six of the top 10 U.S. cities for the number of issued patents are located in Silicon Valley, according to the 2007 Index of Silicon Valley by Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network .
A good first stop would be the Sunnyvale Public Library, a U.S. Patent and Trademark Depository Library.
Two computers are available for patent and trademark research and knowledgeable reference librarians provide free reference services. In addition, a volunteer demonstrates patent searching on weekday mornings at the library.
The Patent and Trademark page on the Sunnyvale Library Web site links to print and online resources and to patent and trademark programs that are offered at the library.
San Francisco Public Library is also a Patent and Trademark Depository Library with public computers for patent and trademark research, trained staff, a patent and trademark print collection, and links to resources from their Web site.
There are inventors’ groups, such as the Inventors Alliance, which offers programs and networking for inventors.
The Cisco Systems-San Jose Entrepreneur Center, which includes the local Small Business Administration, is available to inventors and entrepreneurs for programs, events, and more.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Web site offers a Web page devoted to inventor resources. There are brochures on patents and trademarks, such as, “General Information Concerning Patents;” FAQ’s; transcripts of chats with inventors; tips on how to prevent being scammed; a list of invention promotion companies with complaints against them; and contact information. The USPTO Web site includes a roster of patent attorneys and agents registered to practice before the USPTO. There are instructions and databases for starting a preliminary patent search and for conducting a federal trademark search. Applications may be filed online and tutorials and guides lead the way. Be sure to look at the fantastic kids’ pages with easy to understand descriptions of intellectual property.
The PBS series Everyday Edisons highlights the multi-step, complex process of developing an invention idea into a tangible product.
One of the best known books and a favorite with inventors is Patent it Yourself, by David Pressman. Look to this book for guidance on the kinds of choices an inventor faces when embarking on the commercialization of a creation, some helpful advice for making those choices, and step by step by step instructions for filing a patent application.
The Inventor’s Bible, by Ronald Louis Docie offers practical advice for marketing and licensing those brilliant ideas.
20 Questions to Ask if you have a Great Idea, by Michael H. Jester answers the novice inventor’s most common general questions in a straightforward style.
There is also the book What Every Inventor Needs to Know about Business & Taxes, by Stephen Fishman.
For the historical minded, there are books such as, American Inventions : a History of Curious, Extraordinary, and Just Plain Useful Patents, by Stephen van Dulken;
They Made America : From the Steam Engine to the Search Engine : Two Centuries of Innovators, by Harold Evans, with Gail Buckland and David Lefer; and
Some fun Web sites that highlight patents for unusual inventions include Delphion’s Gallery of Obscure Patents , Totally Absurd Inventions, Crazy Patents, and Wacky Patent of the Month, or take a look at the book Totally Absurd Inventions: America’s Goofiest Patents, by Ted Vancleave.