You might think with all the innovation going on in Silicon Valley that there would be a satellite U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) located there already. Well, believe it or not, there wasn’t until now.
On Thursday, October 15, USPTO officials opened the Silicon Valley Regional Office to serve the San Jose, California, area. The $18.2 million office is located downtown in the San Jose City Hall complex. The public entrance is on South Fourth Street.
The new USPTO regional office is near more than 120 small and growing tech companies, as well as large companies, including Adobe’s corporate headquarters.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo expects engineers, law firms, tech companies, and innovators to locate to the downtown area now that the patent office is there.
Silicon Valley files at least 1,000 US patent applications a month and California alone holds one in 10 patents granted countrywide. According to the USPTO, Santa Clara County, where San Jose is located, has among the highest number of patent applications in the United States.
At the new regional office, visitors can search for existing patents and trademarks. Assistance is also available to inventors, entrepreneurs, and start-ups, as well as virtual access to review judges and video conferencing with patent examiners. One hundred and twenty examiners and judges will be housed at the regional patent office.
The office will also hold intellectual property training classes and conferences, and offer programs that support technology, science, mathematics, and engineering education.
Michelle Lee, director of the USPTO, said the new office will serve as an “embassy of innovation” and a two-way exchange of information and ideas. It also will help reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications, with a turnaround goal of 20 per month.
Lee also said the office will tap into the expertise of the high-tech community to help improve its services and aid in distinguishing between innovation and trite discoveries. It will also host briefings from industry specialists and local academics.
In addition to speeding up the patent examination process, federal officials expect the new office will help entrepreneurs grow their businesses, bring ideas to market sooner, and be proactive in identifying the needs of start-ups and innovators.
The process of filing online patent applications and being assigned to patent examiners at the USPTO headquarters and other satellite offices will remain the same. The satellite offices do not accept walk-in patent, trademark, or copyright applications and/or registrations. Applicants also cannot file patent applications or apply for trademark registration.
However, the San Jose office eliminates the need, time, and expense for applicants to fly to USPTO headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, to explain the particulars of their applications in a face-to-face meeting with a patent examiner.
West Coast technology businesses are elated to have a regional patent office. Many have experienced patent rejections and had to fly out to the East Coast to explain the technological innovation to patent examiners. After doing so, the patent was usually granted.
Now, applicants can consult via computer and interactive video conferencing, and conduct appeals in one of the regional office’s hearing rooms as an alternative to patent litigation.
The West Coast office will serve the following states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Hawaii.
Other US patent satellite offices are located in Detroit, Michigan, and Denver, Colorado. A regional office in Dallas, Texas, is expected to open in November.
The regional offices are being established through the 2011 Leahy-Smith America Invests Act, a patent reform law that allocates funding for them.