Here at the Patent and Trademark Resource Center in the Business Resource & Innovation Center at the Parkway Central Library, we are lucky to work with some amazing organizations who are dedicated to growing Philadelphia’s small business and inventor community. This month, we are excited to highlight the American Society of Inventors (ASI). We’d like to offer special thanks to Marie Kraft, ASI President, and also the ASI Board of Directors for answering our questions about their great organization.
What makes the American Society of Inventors (ASI) unique in Philadelphia’s inventor/business community?
We are the oldest continuously operating self-help inventor group in the country. We were founded in Philadelphia in 1951. We are a non-profit seeking to help the solo inventor/maker move forward in decision-making regarding their ideas, prototypes, inventing strategies, and other new product development-related topics.
Who are your members now and who should join?
Our base members are from the Tri-state area. We have many members, of course, from the Greater Philadelphia area, and as far away as Allentown, Harrisburg, the Poconos, D.C., Pittsburgh, Maryland, and North Carolina. Anyone that has an idea or a product who is looking for input and suggestions on their process would want to become a member. ASI does not loan money, get involved in the commerce of the product, or do any development for the inventor. We also can point members to other organizations that might be useful in their process. The Free Library is one of those invaluable, local resources. There are many pitfalls in the inventing process. Our goal is to help the inventor be successful and not get hurt in the process. Sometimes that means not moving forward with an idea. We encourage our members to never give up but to move smartly.
What is your favorite ASI event of the year? Anything you’d like to plug?
My favorite event is our monthly Board Meetings, during which we evaluate 2-3 member's ideas. To our members, we offer a yearly one-on-one meeting invention evaluation with our Board. It's an opportunity for a member to get direct input and reactions to what he or she is working on. We also have periodic events where we bring in keynote speakers and also hold social events.
What is something awesome that people may not know about your organization?
For the 50th anniversary of ASI, the USPTO partnered with us at the Franklin Institute to present the Independent Inventors Annual Conference. Featured speakers were George Heilmeier, the inventor of the Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), and also Peter Kurzwile, the inventor of the Kurzwile Sound System used by Peter Frampton.
Any fond memories from visiting a library?
Garrett Brown, the inventor of the Skycam and Steadicam™ video systems, was a presenter to the ASI membership at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Libraries are amazing resources and the staff know how to help you cut through the process and get to the information fast.
I have personally used the Thomas Registry to locate US manufacturing businesses for my product, TofuXpress.
Finally, what are you currently reading?
I am reading Steven Key's One Simple Idea, Steven C. Wheelwright and Kim B. Clarks's Revolutionizing Product Development, Jeffrey Dobkin's Uncommon Marketing Techniques, and Andre Agassi's Open.
Visit the American Society of Inventors site to learn more, or call the Business Resource & Innovation Center or Patent & Trademark Resource Center at 215-686-5394 to learn how our resources can grow your business or invention ideas!