WASHINGTON – Apple, Google and Intel soon wont have to travel across the nation to get patent protection on their latest inventions.
Silicon Valley, Dallas and Denver have been selected as the new homes to regional patent offices as part of an effort to cut down on a backlog of applications awaiting review, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said last week.
The agency, which is opening a satellite office in Detroit on July 13 and has declared a critical need for electrical engineers, is trying to hire more examiners to cut into the 640,000 applications awaiting a first review. By expanding beyond its suburban Alexandria, Va., campus, the patent office is seeking to take advantage of a pool of engineers who understand technology and can work closer to where the inventors are located.
This is a big win for San Jose and California that will directly benefit the U.S. economy, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., said.
The additional offices were authorized under an overhaul of the patent system signed into law last year. About 600 applications were submitted, and the selections were based on geographic diversity, economic impact, the local workforce and proximity to companies that are submitting applications.
The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities, the patent office and U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement.
The Silicon Valley area, which also includes San Jose, Sunnyvale and Santa Clara, is the top recipient of patents, with more than 10,000 issued in 2010, agency figures show. The region comprising San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont adds another 6,290 patents, the third-most behind the New York and northern New Jersey region.
Overall, California inventors were named in 28,148 patents, more than a quarter of the 108,626 patents issued to U.S. inventors in 2011. Texas was the second-highest recipient, at 7,584, and Colorado was 14th with 2,102, according to patent office statistics.
The Detroit office will add 120 jobs to the region, and the plan is for at least one of the other offices to be online within two years, said Vikrum Aiyer, a spokesman for the patent office. The agency is hiring 1,500 examiners this fiscal year, to bring the total to 7,800 from 6,800 plus filling in for turnover. It said it expects to hire a comparable number next year, depending on a budget getting approved by Congress.