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The USPTO heads west to Texas, California and Colorado

The USPTO has announced it will open three new satellite offices in addition to Detroit – Dallas, Texas; San Jose, California and Denver, Colorado

The announcement comes just over one week before the USPTO’s first satellite patent office is scheduled to open in Detroit, Michigan. The additional three offices will be “guided by the experience in Detroit”, said USPTO director David Kappos during a press conference on Monday.

In a recent interview with Managing IP, USPTO commissioner for patents Peggy Focarino said that the size and focus of each new office will differ according to region. In Detroit, the plan is to hire a total of 125 examiners in groups of 25 each, beginning July 16.

The 11 administrative law judges that have been hired so far for Detroit will begin even sooner, chief ALJ James Smith told Managing IP. Detroit ALJs went for training in Alexandria in May and are now on temporary telework duty.

“Even though the office opening is July 13, their start date is the ninth of July because office preparation is ahead of schedule,” said Smith, adding that ALJs have been given the option to start as early as today.

The number of examiners and ALJs in Denver, San Jose and Dallas will vary, said Focarino. There may be fewer or more examiners and they may specialise in different sectors.

Examiners in Detroit will all focus on mechanical patents for now, while the Texas office may stick to energy-related industries and California to information technology. “Over time we will try to develop the workforce in those areas; innovators want to be located in an area where they can interact effectively,” said Kappos.

Focarino told Managing IP that the Detroit model of hiring only IP-experienced examiners may also vary in subsequent offices.

The Office expects to be successful in hiring ALJs for the three new offices, as it has “done extremely well in Detroit in that regard”, said Kappos during today’s call.

“Board judges are very hard to find in the Washington, DC area these days, so we’re certainly focusing on that in Denver, Dallas and San José,” added Kappos.

The USPTO will be sending site survey teams to all three locations to determine the order in which the new offices will open.

More than 600 comments were received in response to the USPTO’s request for recommendations on additional satellite locations. The America Invents Act mandated that the agency open at least three new offices by 2014.

The Office focused its analysis of potential locations on criteria outlined by the AIA, including:

  • 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; and
  • The geographic diversity of selected offices

Cost to the Office and ability to employ US veterans were also considered as part of the analysis.

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