Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) recently announced that the San Jose City Hall building, located at 200 East Santa Clara Street, has been selected as the permanent location for the USPTO’s Silicon Valley satellite office. The search for permanent office space was put on hold in July due to sequestration. Generous support and assistance from the City of San Jose, the California State Assembly’s Speaker’s Office, along with the collective support for the satellite office championed by members of the California congressional delegation, will enable the USPTO to move forward with occupying permanent space in Silicon Valley by the end of 2014.
Days before the selection, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker outlined her “Open for Business Agenda.” Promoting American innovation is a core priority of the Agenda, as technology and innovation are key drivers of U.S. competitiveness, wage and job growth, and long term economic growth. The selection of a permanent USPTO office in the Silicon Valley is a key part of the Commerce Department’s efforts to boost America’s innovation economy.
“A permanent USPTO office in Silicon Valley will help grow the regional innovation ecosystem by empowering entrepreneurs to more readily navigate the nation’s intellectual property system,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “The USPTO plays a crucial role in helping protect the cutting-edge ideas that drive our economy and keep the U.S. globally competitive. The permanent satellite offices help advance the Commerce Department’s innovation agenda by helping entrepreneurs get their products to market more quickly, provide resources tailored to the needs of local start-ups, and create good paying, high-skilled jobs.”
A permanent West Coast office will enable the USPTO to help more entrepreneurs protect their intellectual property so they can attract capital, put their business plans into action, and help create more jobs. The San Jose City Hall location provides office space for patent examiners and Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) judges, a robust examiner training facility, and public hearing rooms for PTAB proceedings, including its trial proceedings, which clarify the quality and certainty of a patent right and serve as a low-cost and efficient alternative to litigation in the federal court system.
In addition, small businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to learn about USPTO services, meet with examiners, and access USPTO’s comprehensive search databases. The space will also provide public access to search equipment and teleconference capabilities to facilitate in-person and virtual meetings with examiners. This access to patent examiners and trademark educational initiatives will help clarify application questions earlier on in the process, thereby improving the quality of examination and increasing the efficiency of moving a new product or technology to the marketplace.
“The USPTO never faltered in its commitment to opening a permanent Silicon Valley satellite office, despite the setback caused by sequestration,” said Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea. “A permanent office will allow us to attract additional intellectual property professionals who will work closely with regional entrepreneurs to process patent applications, reduce the backlog of unexamined patents, and speed up the overall process–creating good jobs and promoting American innovation.”
Since April 2013, the USPTO has been operating out of temporary office space in Menlo Park secured via the General Services Administration. Until the new San Jose City Hall space is ready, Silicon Valley Office Director Michelle Lee and nine PTAB judges will continue working from that location. The USPTO aims to staff the permanent office with at least 60 patent examiner hires and approximately 20 PTAB judges in its first year of operation, thus creating a minimum of 80 high-paying new jobs in the area.
“The entire Silicon Valley community, including business leaders, entrepreneurs, and individual inventors, as well as congressional, state and local leaders, have been tremendously supportive of the Silicon Valley office from the start,” said Lee. “As a result of this support and shared belief in the benefits of a Silicon Valley satellite office, we are excited to be able to move forward now with the opening of the permanent location of the Silicon Valley office and to fulfill the full vision and promise of this office for the benefit of the innovation community.”
Despite the delay in selection of the permanent office space, Lee and her team have been actively engaged in education, outreach, and public input solicitation, including: the organization of Software Partnership outreach events; hosting local training programs on the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”); planning STEM (science, technology, education and math) workshops to train K-12 teachers in local school districts on innovation, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property; and building relationships with local innovators, industries, intellectual property bar associations, incubators, venture capitalists, and universities. The USPTO intends to continue conducting this outreach so that the agency can develop policies, programs and procedures to best meet the needs of the innovation community.
USPTO was forced to suspend its search for permanent office space in Silicon Valley in July of this year. The City of San Jose has offered approximately 40,000 square feet of permanent office space in its City Hall, with two years of free rent and three additional years of discounted rent. In addition, the California State Assembly Speaker’s Office has offered the USPTO $500,000, which will help the agency continue to provide education and outreach efforts and accelerate the momentum toward opening the permanent office.
The AIA, which became law in September 2011, called for the USPTO to establish three or more satellite offices, subject to available resources. The USPTO opened its first permanent office space, the Elijah J. McCoy Satellite Office, in Detroit in July 2012. USPTO has identified permanent locations for the remaining satellite offices, at the Terminal Annex Federal Building in Dallas, and at the Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building in Denver, with the latter office slated to open in July 2014.
For non-press inquiries pertaining to the satellite site selection, please contact USPTO’s Director of the Office of Administrative Services John Hassett at 571-272-6250 or Special Advisor to the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Vikrum Aiyer at 571-272-8818.