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May 18 News

News for ICSTI Members May 18 2002

1.	A new portal for academic libraries

>From Information Today, 13 May 2002

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has begun a new portal
initiative, working with seven of its major member libraries on the
initial release. The goal of the effort, called the Scholars Portal
Project, is to develop and distribute software that allows users to
leverage electronic library services through portal software. Initially
the tools are expected to serve primarily as a library channel for
existing university-wide portals. The ARL tool allows users to search
across digital resources from multiple institutions and receive
aggregated results, much like Google. Developers plan to add features
including 24 x 7 online access to reference librarians and integration
with e-learning and course environments. 

2.	The US Patent & Trade Mark Office goes paperless!!

As part of its transition to an electronic filing system, the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is embarking upon a plan to dispose
of an estimated 135 million documents - literally tons of paper -
chronicling more than 200 years of innovation. 
These are the records of some 27 million patents now redundant,
following the scanning of the paper versions into the USPTO  electronic
database. By 2004 all applications for patents and trade marks will have
to be made electronically and the whole process  of examining and
publishing will then be electronic. They are looking for a new home for
the paper.

The move to electronic has not been without its controversies. One
survey claimed that more than half of nearly 4,000 trademark
applications electronically filed within a single week last year were
assigned incorrect search codes or contained illegible or missing
images. In addition, patent lawyers are claiming that the online
database is not complete. They search both it and the paper files in
their searches, claiming that examiners using only the online version
can make mistakes in reviewing the uniqueness of the application. 

One of the reasons the USPTO wants to get rid of the paper is they need
the room for more than 700 new examiners whom they have recently
appointed. They hope to hire 950 more, if they get the budget approval. 

So far the NIPLI - the National Intellectual Property Law Institute has
offered to house the paper collection, but maybe the USPTO will be wary,
the NIPLI is representative of some of the major companies who file a
lot of the applications, so they would be able to cross-check the
searches against the electronic!! 

Goes to show that the move to the paperless world is not without its


Despite having the signatures of more than 30,000 academics, a group
pushing for more access to academic content has so far had little impact
on the publishing of journals. The Public Library of Science in April
2001 called for academics to boycott journals that do not put their
content online after six months without a fee to access it. But
according to directors of the project, few of the signatories have
stopped submitting to those journals, subscribing to them, or acting as
editors. The group now plans to begin publishing its own set of
scholarly journals, allowing academics to continue publishing but
ensuring that content will be available online within six months. 
Chronicle of Higher Education, 16 May 2002

VISITING GENEVA? See http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/geneva02.html

Howard Flack        http://www.unige.ch/crystal/ahdf/Howard.Flack.html

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