USPTO to Expand Its Regional Office Program

On July 2, 2012, the United States Patent and Trademark Office announced that it will be expanding its regional office program to include Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado and San Jose, California. The first regional office, the Elijah J. McCoy United States Patent and Trademark Office, in Detroit, Michigan, is scheduled to open on July 13 of this year. Section 23 of the America Invents Act required the USPTO to establish at least 3 additional satellite offices by September 2014. The satellite office program seeks to:

  • Increase outreach activities to better connect patent filers and innovators with the Office;
  • Enhance patent examiner retention;
  • Improve recruitment of patent examiners;
  • Decrease the number of patent applications waiting for examination; and
  • Improve the quality of patent examination.

In furtherance of these objectives, the USPTO began soliciting public comments on prospective locations in November 2011 and evaluated candidate locations based on the following criteria:

  • The ability to conduct outreach to the patent applicant community;
  • The ability to recruit top talent at the USPTO;
  • The ability to retain top talent at the USPTO;
  • The potential economic impact on the selected communities;
  • The geographic diversity of selected offices;
  • Operational feasibility and cost to the Agency; and
  • The ability to employ U.S. veterans.

While the USPTO indicated that Dallas and Denver were selected for their engineering talent and veteran population, San Jose was praised for offering a “great quality of life.”

The interplay of these new regional offices with the patent prosecution process will be closely watched.

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