Patent Pending


| February 2002



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Jim and Phyllis Moffet hold their 1838 Rufus Porter corn sheller

Rainy days send Jim and Phyllis Moffet to the Patent and Trademark Depository Library in Springfield, Ill., like ducks to a puddle. There, the hours slip quietly away while this Modesto, Ill., couple search out patent records on everything from corn shelters to hog 'jewelry' to fence splicers and even pencil sharpeners.

For Jim, a retired farmer, and Phyllis, a homemaker and her husband's 'first lieutenant' in this paper chase, patent research is all about discovery. The lure of 'What is it?' keeps them coming back, and has now for more than a dozen years.

'We got interested in it because some friends were doing it too,' Jim recalls, 'and the more we did, the more we enjoyed it.'

Jane Running, the recently retired patent librarian who taught the Moffets their way around the Springfield library, says after so many years, she came to consider Jim her 'Auxiliary.' He regularly helps out new researchers at her request.

The Springfield facility is one of 88 such official depositories across the country where patent information can be researched. It also is available on the Internet.

Along with helping out in Springfield, Jim often follows up on queries published in Farm Collector's 'Letters' column, mailing whatever his research turns up to the letter writers, and sometimes to Farm Collector editors as well.