A state historical marker, outside of the garage in Palo Alto, Calif., that… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is going to where the entrepreneurs are, announcing plans Monday to open a regional facility in Silicon Valley to help speed up the processing of applications from the nation's high-tech giants and wannabe start-ups.
The agency also said it would open regional offices in Dallas and Denver. The three new offices will join the first such satellite facility, set to open in Detroit on July 13.
“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 David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is part of the Commerce Department.
The regional offices were required by the America Invents Act, a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. patent system that was enacted in September. Three or more offices must be opened by September 2014. The exact locations of the offices in Silicon Valley, Dallas and Denver have not yet been determined.
The goal of the America Invents Act was to help modernize the patent system, which officials said is crucial to improving U.S. competitiveness. As of May, the patent office had a backlog of 641,142 applications.
The Detroit office is expected to ramp up to 120 employees by the end of its first year. All four regional offices will "function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape and creating new economic opportunities" in each of the regions, the Commerce Department said.
Silicon Valley was an obvious choice for the satellite office in the Pacific time zone. The region is home to many of the large companies that file the most applications, as well as "legions of start-ups and small tech companies" that depend on patents, the Commerce Department said. In addition, the "abundant population of engineering talent will provide fertile recruiting grounds" for new patent examiners.
“Intellectual property protection and innovation are engines of economic growth and the bedrock of America’s private sector,” said acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank. “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.”
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