Got an idea for an invention but not sure what to do with it? Donna Arment can help.
Durango’s patent and trademark resource officer at the public library has been helping local inventors for almost a year to get their ideas off the ground and navigate the complicated U.S. patent process. She will continue the work until mid-July, when she plans to leave the Southwest for Arlington, Virginia, just south of Washington, D.C., for an exclusive fellowship with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
Federal employees chose Arment for the fellowship out of a pool of employees in 84 patent and trademark resource centers across each of the 50 states, including two centers in Puerto Rico. She didn’t apply for it, she said.
“I was kind of in shock,” Arment said of the call she received in November 2018 offering her the fellowship. “I had to really just think about it: What would this do? What could I bring back to the community? How could this work?”
Arment has worked for years as a librarian in Durango, first at Fort Lewis College then, in 2006, at Durango Public Library. She helped business owners with business and marketing plan research for about five years before working with patents and trademarks, Arment said.
When the Denver U.S. Patent and Trademark Regional Office director came to Durango in fall 2017, the work seemed a perfect fit for Arment, she said.
“It wasn’t a stretch because I can see why (U.S. patent and trademark resource officers) come to libraries because it’s what we do already: We share resources with the community and with people, no matter what level or resource it is, whether grants, business searching, now this patent searching – it’s very similar to what we do.” she said. “I knew this (patent and trademark resource center) would take this to the next level, then not only helping businesses but inventors, incubators, the Maker Space.”
The federal government provides resources to patent and trademark resource centers around the country to give people the tools they need to research and file a patent application. The patent and trademark officers often embody many of those resources.
Arment’s year-long fellowship is designed to better train her in the skills needed to help people successfully file a patent or trademark. She’ll take a patent examination class, for example, where she’ll learn what patent examiners look for in applications. Arment said this knowledge will give her the skills to review patent applications much like those who approve them.
“It’s an amazing place and an amazing group of people to work with, and to live in Alexandria and to really just kind of be immersed in this for a year,” Arment said.
She’ll also work on a yearlong project of her choosing while in Alexandria, but she hasn’t decided what she wants to do. Helping businesses with patents is on the list, as is designing a program to help children file patents and establish a marketing plan for the patent resource center in Durango, Arment said.
Everything seems to be falling into place, Arment said. Her husband agreed to take care of their cats while she’s away, and Durango Public Library Director Sandy Irwin said the library will actually be saving money by sending Arment to Alexandria. The federal government will pay the library for her salary while she’s gone, Irwin said.
“Knowing there are more than 80 U.S. patent and trademark resource centers, and to know that Donna has made such an impression on U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, it’s a testament to Donna’s skills and dedication to all aspects of her job,” Irwin said.
But Arment said she’ll miss the mountains, trees and casual nature of Durango: “I’ll probably have to dress up for a little bit,” she said.
“I’m so excited to have this opportunity to do this, now that everything is kind of falling in place, then to come back and train the librarians here,” Arment said. “We’re hoping once the word gets out, we’re going to get people from the Four Corners area. We’re not just helping Durango, we’ll be helping the Four Corners.”