Patent no longer pending: Patent office in Silicon Valley gets a permanent home

150 150 Matthew Grant Anson

The permanent USPTO office will be housed in San Jose City Hall. (Photo Credit: Paul Robinson/Flickr)

To say a permanent patent office in California is a longtime coming would be a crushing understatement. The multi-year effort to encourage the federal government to install a regional patent office in California hit pay dirt, with the announcement of success coming just two months after our first Economic Summit in 2012. But ever since that announcement, a truly permanent space has been in the works far longer than anticipated.

This was due to sequestration, the severe belt-tightening budget cuts imposed on the country that seemed to take a budget bite out of everything in its path. But while cuts to things like air traffic controllers were the main narratives lighting up the news, lost in the hubbub was the fact that the search for a permanent patent office space was shelved earlier this year due to the cuts.

The wait is over. This week came the announcement from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) that the permanent office space for the office would be in the San Jose City Hall building. The fact that the patent office would be so close to the tech hub Silicon Valley is not a coincidence.

“This started four-plus years ago with the Leadership Group and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed on the outside, along with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren and her colleagues on the inside, fighting for language in the America Invents Act to allow competitively selected regional patent offices to better serve America’s innovators and entrepreneurs,” said Carl Guardino, president and CEO of Silicon Valley Leadership Group. Silicon Valley competed with 500 other interested parties for three offices, resulting in its selection along with Denver and Dallas.

What separates Silicon Valley from Denver and Dallas is the fact that the region is responsible for the most U.S. patents out of all metro regions. “In late 2014 the office will open with examiners and judges in the heart of Silicon Valley, home to one out of every eight patents granted in the United States,” said Guardino.

The fully staffed office should help alleviate the heavy backlog that the patent system is facing and will provide business services for startups in the region. The permanent space also means the office can finish off hiring the 80-member staff.

“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,” said USPTO Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea, in the USPTO’s release.

The USPTO will continue to operate out of Menlo Park, a temporary space that’s been used since April of this year. At the permanent spot, the City of San Jose is letting the patent office operate rent free in City Hall for two years, with a discounted rate after that.

While saying the office is a longtime coming would be an understatement, there’s virtually no way one can overstate the importance of a regional patent office for California’s entrepreneurs. One of the top priorities of the California Economic Summit’s 2012 Action Plan was to encourage innovation in the state, and the path to true, transformative innovation is that much shorter, now that the goal of a patent office was achieved. With our 2013 Summit just concluded, more action items for making California more competitive and helping boost job creation in the state are just around the corner.


Matthew Grant Anson

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