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USPTO to open first ever satellite offices

By: Todd Etshman//July 5, 2012

USPTO to open first ever satellite offices

By: Todd Etshman//July 5, 2012//

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File photo of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Va., just outside Washington, D.C. Their first satellite office will open in Detroit next week. AP Images

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office received over 600 suggestions during the past six months regarding where the USPTO should place regional satellite offices designed to improve the patent application process and create new jobs in the communities selected.

Despite recommendations from New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, attorney Gunnar Leinberg of LeClair Ryan and USPTO examiner James Hulka that a satellite office be placed in Rochester, the USPTO announced this week that it will locate the offices in Dallas, San Jose and Denver instead.

“Protecting intellectual property is vital to our economic security, and a Rochester office would be a great opportunity for New York to capitalize on its valuable IP, and secure a strong economic future for our state,” Gillibrand said in a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson.

Gillibrand and Leinberg pointed to the high number of patents issued in our area and the high number of colleges that produce graduates that can be considered for examiner positions and assist in the patent approval process.

 “I think the selection process was pretty political and Albany and Rochester never really had the backing they needed,” said Hoffman Warnick partner Michael Hoffman in Albany. “It would have been great given the number of universities and the intelligence pool upstate New York has to draw from.”

Examiners typically have an engineering or scientific educational background, Hoffman explained.

Hoffman Warnick compiles a quarterly index of patent applications and issues in the patent rich areas of Albany, Rochester, Syracuse and Boston.

Hoffman said he wasn’t sure if the USPTO would divide up the work of the new satellite offices by region or by technology.

The USPTO did not say when the three new offices would open but the first regional USPTO satellite office ever opens in Detroit on July 13.

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 required the USPTO to establish regional satellite locations within three years and the USPTO said the additional locations would make it easier to recruit and retain examiners and judges to reduce application and appeal backlogs.

The USPTO said the patent application backlog has been reduced to 641,000 despite a five percent increase in applications in 2011.

“They have a high attrition rate and it’s hard to get people to live in Washington, D.C.,” said Rochester-based Hoffman Warnick attorney Carl Ruoff. “This should help them cut down on attrition since you don’t have to move to Washington anymore.”

“No one office can do it alone but to the extent that they are hiring more examiners and judges for the Board of Appeals, that will help the backlog and shorten the appeals process,” said LeClair Ryan patent prosecution attorney Edwin Merkel.

“By expanding our operation outside of the Washington metropolitan area for the first time in our agency’s 200-plus year history, we are taking unprecedented steps to recruit a diverse range of talented technical experts, creating new opportunities across the American workforce,” said USPTO Director David Kappos.

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