The April 29 fire at the Los Angeles Central Library, which destroyed one of the four patent collections in California, has triggered a move to establish another official U.S. patent depository, at the University of California, Irvine.
UC Irvine officials said they have received many inquiries about patent information, and that has spurred a campaign by the university and local patent attorneys to raise $150,000 to establish a new depository, which would be the fifth such facility in California and the 62nd in the nation.
Since the Los Angeles fire, lawyers, inventors and others in the area who need to research patents have had to order copies from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Washington or do their business with patent depositories in Sacramento, Sunnyvale and San Diego.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has assured UC Irvine officials that it will process the university's application for official designation "on an emergency basis" as soon as the office receives a formal request, according to the university.
Wants to Raise Funds
But Stephen Christensen, UC Irvine's development director for special projects, said the university first wants to raise the money needed to purchase copies of all U.S. microfilmed patents going back 20 years, or about 1.5 million documents, as well as the computer terminal readers and printers needed to tap into a computerized data base.
Officials at both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the Los Angeles Public Library stress, however, that plans will go forward to replace the patent collection in Los Angeles by the time the city's Central Library reopens at temporary quarters early next year. The Los Angeles patent collection and viewing equipment was valued at $500,000.
"There is plenty of room for two patent libraries in the area," said Billie M. Connor, who is in charge of the Los Angeles depository. Connor said there is a burgeoning local demand for researching patents.
Christensen of UC Irvine said the university, with assistance from the 90-member Orange County Patent Law Assn., hopes to collect enough donations or commitments within the next three months. It is possible, he said, that a patent library may open to the public at the university's main library before the end of the year.
Requests Nearly Double
In the 1985 fiscal year, Connor said, the Los Angeles patent library received 300,313 patent requests, almost double the 150,268 requests it received in fiscal 1977. She said a survey in August of 1983 showed that 81% of people using the patent facility were from Los Angeles County, 13.8% from San Diego and Orange counties and 5.2% from "elsewhere."
Connor said that when the Los Angeles patent depository is replaced it will be much more extensive than the one proposed in Irvine, including about 4.5 million patents going back to the first issued in 1790 and signed by George Washington. That patent, she said, was for potash and pearl ash used for making fertilizer and soap.