Written by Catherine Sanso CE ’14

Bernard Olcott

Recently deceased Bernard Olcott (1919 to 2006) can be described as a groundbreaking businessman and entrepreneur, a world traveler, a revolutionary in the field of intellectual property, and more locally, a Cooper Union alumnus (EE ’39). In the beginning of July, I had the pleasure of meeting Bernard Olcott’s son, James Olcott, who is currently chronicling his father’s life via a blog. James was able to shed some light on his father’s remarkable life story in hopes of appealing to the Cooper community who might have known him and can provide James with any further insight into his father’s history.

Bernard Olcott started Olcott international, a patent renewal service that pays maintenance and renewal fees on behalf of its clients.  Since payment frequencies and quantities vary depending on the country’s laws in which the patent is being filed, Olcott International offered a much-needed service to clients that previously went unaddressed.

It appears that some of this success may be attributed to Bernard’s education at the Cooper Union. James can recall the early days of his father’s business when Bernard taught himself computer programming by renting time through a technology company during a period when computers were a new frontier. Bernard Olcott went on to develop a computer program that compared previous patent records to current filing numbers. His extremely technical approach to data integrity mirrors the problem-solving methods that were and continue to be utilized in the electrical department of Cooper Union.

Olcott Family

The Olcott Family: above from left, Bernard, Addie, Ritchie, James, and Gloria in the late 1970s.

As James and I discussed his father’s life, I realized that we only scratched the surface of Bernard Olcott. In his blog, James makes a valiant effort to portray not only his father’s business acumen, but also to highlight Bernard’s individual hobbies (such as traveling) and to impartially understand Bernard’s personal accomplishments and failures. As previously mentioned, more information can be found at www.thebernardolcottstory.com.  Please don’t hesitate to contact James Olcott directly with any information concerning Bernard Olcott. The contact information is below:

James Olcott


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