Letter: Patents point to Gulf Coast prosperity

Thank you to Timothy Boone and Ted Griggs for an interesting and fact-filled article (“Patents issued drop in N.O.” Feb. 9) about patents in New Orleans. Boone’s numbers were interesting because in spite of its great drop in population in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans ranks 127th among 358 metro areas in number of patents issued.

This is astounding and heartening. Many businesses and universities on the Gulf Coast were severely impacted by Katrina, and yet people continued to innovate and hopefully continued to commercialize those innovations. According to Boone’s article, an answer to increasing the number of patents in New Orleans is more private, industrial research and development. With the post-Katrina renovation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast still taking place, these areas can showcase the idea that increasing the number of patents is a matter of fostering fertile soil and a welcoming climate in which innovations can take root and thrive.

The Gulf Coast Patent Association (a nonprofit networking and educational organization) has been attempting, since September 2010, to create that fertile soil. First and foremost, innovators need to have the facts: the facts about building a business around an invention, about protecting that invention and about building a brand.

Innovators need to know about funding resources and how to access those funds. They need to know that there are technologies already developed and ready for commercialization on the shelves of every university and government laboratory (and there are many) across the five-state region (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida) represented by the Gulf Coast Patent Association.

Finally, innovators need to know that there are local resources available, willing and able to help them move from idea to profitable enterprise. Whether one is an innovator in a large company or is on his own, the same intellectual property protection rules apply. The Gulf Coast Patent Association, composed of over 100 members from all sectors of commerce (business, government, university — not just patent attorneys) in a searchable database, is a good place to start seeking information. Meetings are held four times a year, and all are welcome. See http://www.gulfcoastpatentassociation.org, and contact any board member for further details.

Seth Nehrbass

patent attorney

New Orleans