USPTO to open satellite office in Silicon Valley

New offices -- also in Dallas and Denver -- will help the patent office hire more employees and deal with a patent backlog, officials say

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will open satellite offices in Silicon Valley, Texas and Colorado in an effort to bolster its recruitment of patent examiners and other employees and better serve local businesses, the office announced Monday.

The USPTO will open offices in the San Jose, California, area, in Dallas and in Denver, the office announced. The USPTO had previously announced a new office in Detroit, and that location will open July 13.

The new offices should help the USPTO attract intellectual property experts, who will be able to work closely with local entrepreneurs to process and reduce a large backlog of patent applications, the USPTO said in a press release. It has had difficulty hiring and retaining examiners for its northern Virginia headquarters, and the office has a backlog of about 600,000 patent applications.

"Intellectual property protection and innovation are engines of economic growth and the bedrock of America's private sector," Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, said in a statement. "These new offices are an historic step toward further advancing our world's best IP system, and reinforcing the United States as the number one destination for innovation capital, and research and development around the world."

The USPTO selected the four sites based on an analysis of criteria including geographical diversity, regional economic impact, ability to recruit and retain employees and the ability to engage the intellectual property community, the office said. The America Invents Act of 2011, signed into law by President Barack Obama in September, required the USPTO to establish regional satellite locations as part of a larger effort to modernize the U.S. patent system over the next three years.

The USPTO and the Department of Commerce, its parent agency, received more than 600 public comments on satellite offices.

Hewlett-Packard encouraged the USPTO to locate at least one satellite office in the western half of the U.S. The satellite offices should be located in major metropolitan areas close to HP's research and development facilities, wrote Curtis Rose, the company's general counsel, in comments to the USPTO in January. Dallas, Denver and the San Francisco Bay area were among the locations Rose recommended.

"It is important to HP that the USPTO place satellite offices in locations that best meet the USPTO's needs for attracting and retaining a high quality workforce that works together to improve the overall quality of the U.S. patent system," Rose wrote.

Several people submitting comments recommended other cities in California. Others recommended several other cities, including Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston and Boise, Idaho.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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