The COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping the world. Social distancing is uprooting the established societal and economic norms. Without a doubt, these are difficult times. But, as Albert Einstein once said: “in the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.”

The transition from brick-and-mortar to online has been ongoing over the last two decades. With COVID-19 restrictions imposed worldwide, social distancing is becoming an unstoppable catalyst for this transition. As intellectual property attorneys, we are on the front line of these changes. Almost daily, calls and emails come in from entrepreneurs. They are excited to launch new companies or revamp their current business models. Unprecedented expansion of telemedicine, online learning, remote working, and online shopping are creating new markets ripe with lucrative economic opportunities. For example, with many brick-and-mortar showrooms on a shutdown, augmented reality has become the primary source of prospective customers trying on clothes or envisioning a new furniture piece in their home office. And this is just the beginning.

Recognizing that intellectual property is the engine driving America’s economic success, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) remains fully operational during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Indeed, the USPTO is expanding and is on track to hire hundreds of new examiners. America’s innovative minds are as busy as ever finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. Staying positive during difficult times is not easy, but it is important to remember that “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Stay healthy, stay safe, stay innovative.