The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has expanded from a single location to have satellite patent offices in Denver and Detroit, with Dallas, and Silicon Valley locations planned to open soon.
The America Invents Act (AIA), signed into law two years ago, required additional patent offices be opened to increase outreach, improve hiring and retention, decrease application backlog, and improve quality of examination. Kilpatrick Townsend worked with Senate staff to introduce amendments to the AIA pressing forward with additional office locations. As specified in the AIA, the location of additional satellite offices was to be geographically diverse, consider availability of recruits, and take into account the economic impact to the region.
About ten years ago, Kilpatrick Townsend partner Thomas D. Franklin became convinced that the only way to improve patent quality was to draw from a variety of applicant pools for hiring examiners while increasing retention of experienced examiners. The USPTO competes for talent in the hottest technology areas that tend to file more patent applications. The Washington, DC-area has relatively expensive housing and largely a transient workforce without the ability to draw recruits from other parts of the U.S. Drawing inspiration from the UK Patent Office’s move away from London to reduce turnover by tenfold and patent offices in other countries with multiple locations, Mr. Franklin worked with a team of local leaders to convince the Federal Government to expand nationally to match talent pools and its customer footprint.
In choosing Denver as one of the satellite patent offices, the USPTO provided the following explanation for its choice:
“The Denver area provides the USPTO with a mountain time zone hub from which to operate. Empirical evidence demonstrates that Denver is a sought-after place to live and work with relatively low cost-of-living—a critical combination for the recruitment and retention of top talent. Further, the economic impact of a USPTO satellite office in the Denver region is projected to be disproportionate relative to most other cities. Denver also boasts an above average population of potential Veteran employees.”
With the opening of the Denver patent office on June 30, 2014 there are now three locations where patents will be examined. With the openings of the Dallas and Silicon Valley offices, there will be five offices such that the U.S. joins other patent offices serving large geographies such Europe, Australia, India, China, and Russia that already enjoy multiple locations. Access to a broader applicant pool for examiners in lower cost-of-living areas will draw the best and brightest examiners to the USPTO. Patent applicants can expect a higher quality examination, quicker turnaround for their patent applications and access to a more convenient office.