The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced July 2 plans to open a satellite patent office in San Jose, Calif., the heart of Silicon Valley and the epicenter of IT industry inventiveness. The federal agency also plans to open satellite patent offices in Detroit, Dallas and Denver.
The location of the San Jose office means the agency will be able to serve the entrepreneurs working to develop new technology in Silicon Valley, said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), in whose district the USPTO will be based.
"By having a patent office in San Jose, enterprising startups and global technology leaders alike will benefit from direct access to services that currently are only available across the country in Washington," Lofgren said, noting that more than one-quarter of all the patents filed in the U.S. originated in Silicon Valley. "This means products can be brought from the drawing board to the marketplace faster and easier, creating a more direct path to economic growth and the job creation that comes from it."
The satellite offices were authorized by the America Invents Act of 2011, signed into law by President Barack Obama in September of 2011 as part of a larger effort to modernize the U.S. patent system over the next three years, the USPTO said.
The Detroit office, which is scheduled to open July 13, is expected to employ about 120 people and will serve as the model for how the other satellite offices will be staffed. Its not yet clear when the other three satellites will open but the legislation calls for them to be opened by 2014.
Right now there is a backlog of 620,000 pending patents with as many as 500,000 new patents filed every year, Lofgren said, so inventors can face a three-year wait for patent applications to be processed and approved or denied.
The lobbying for the San Jose office was led by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a regional business organization, and included support from San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and from the regions congressional representatives besides Lofgren. More than 125 tech company CEOs signed San Joses bid package in January and a group of about 60 CEOs traveled to Washington in April to make a personal pitch.
A regional patent office will likely mean a timely review of patent applications and access to patent officers for the valleys companies, said Carl Guardino, CEO of the leadership group.
The USPTO operates within the U.S. Department of Commerce, which issued a recent report finding that IP-intensive industries are the sourcedirectly or indirectlyof 40 million jobs, contributing $5.06 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2010.