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LTU Talks Intellectual Property At Event For Inventors, Entrepreneurs

SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) -- Nearly 100 inventors, entrepreneurs, and those who help them create jobs attended a symposium on intellectual property law Wednesday at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

Sponsored by LTU,, the patent law firm of RatnerPrestia and WWJ Newsradio 950, the event featured information on how to use intellectual property law and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.

Derek Richmond, an LTU graduate and patent attorney for RatnerPrestia in Washington, D.C., pointed out that the Detroit area is a hotbed for patents and entrepreneurship.

"It's not the bankruptcy that you see on the news all the time, but it's the sixth leading state for IP ownership that we need to be talking about," Richmond said.

He said inventors and entrepreneurs should check out a "entrepreneur's survival guide" intellectual property information section on the law firm's Web site,

LTU president and CEO Virinder K. Moudgil, who started his career as a biochemistry researcher studying cancer treatment, said the Detroit area's strengths are building and producing tangible, meaningful things. He added that innovation, entrepreneurship and innovation are "cornerstones" of the LTU education and are required for graduation.

Faris Almatrahi, supervisory patent examiner at the USPTO's Elijah McCoy Detroit office, explained the basics of applying for patents and what they protect. Machines, products, processes or compositions of matter can be patented, or improvements to any of those. Patents last 20 years from the date of filing, and are valid only in the United States.

He said that in fiscal 2012, the government got more than 564,000 patent applications and issued nearly 269,000 patents.

The PTO's first branch office was opened in 2012 in Detroit. Other branch offices are planned for Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, Denver, Colo. and California's Silicon Valley.

The Detroit office provides numerous services, meetings and programs to area entrepreneurs. More at

Almatrahi provided an update on the latest in patent law changes, including new rules on filings and "micro enterprise" status and the America Invents Act. More at

And Almatrahi said the USPTO remains open despite the federal shutdown because it is funded by its own fees.

Closing keynoter David Cole -- chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, former head of the University of Michigan's Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation, and current chairman of the automotive intellectual property developer AutoHarvest -- told the crowd that intellectual property is key to the automotive industry and manufacturing in general.

Cole said the fundamental basis of any real, productive economy remains mining, agriculture and manufacturing. That's because an auto industry job has an economic multiplier of 10, an auto supplier job 5.7, and "that cool Wall Street job?... less than 2."

And he said the auto industry is changing in fundamental ways that he grouped together as a "feminization" -- more cooperation between competitors, more communication across silos within an organization.

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