The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has opened its new satellite location in Denver. The office is the second of four satellite offices announced by the USPTO. The other locations announced are Detroit, Dallas-Fort Worth, and San Jose, Calif. The offices are designed to foster American innovation in the global marketplace and help speed up the patent process. The USPTO had a backlog of 700,000 applications before the U.S. recession in 2008.
According to a report by leaders in the Colorado, Denver’s satellite office will bring hundreds of jobs and economic activity worth about $440 million over its first five years of operation. In addition to hiring up to 120 patent examiners in metro Denver, the USPTO office will draw inventors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and IP attorneys to the region, and will further breed and expand Colorado’s already strong high-tech and innovation economy. Nine patent trial and appeal board judges have been working in a temporary office in metro Denver since last year, and the USPTO has already started recruiting its first team of 50 examiners to work in the new 45,000-square-foot office.
“The new patent office will put Metro Denver and Colorado in the national spotlight as an innovation hub,” said John Posthumus, an intellectual property (IP) attorney and shareholder at Denver-based law firm Sheridan Ross, in a statement.
In December 2010, the USPTO decided to put the first satellite office in Detroit. In February 2011, John Posthumus, an attorney at Sheridan Ross, met with Senator Bennet’s office to discuss a strategy for putting our effort back on track. At the time, patent reform legislation was pending before the Senate. At the meeting, Senator Bennet’s office suggested an amendment that would require the USPTO to open up additional offices. Colorado Senators Bennet and Udall co-introduced the satellite office amendment, which was passed unanimously. In May of 2011, the Senate version went to the House and ultimately the amendment was adopted with a few revisions, and ended up being signed by President Obama on September 16, 2011.
“This was a game changing moment because Section 23 of the America Invents Act said that the patent office had to open up three or more satellite offices by the third anniversary of the legislation,” Posthumus told me in a recent interview.
“Subsequently, in December 2011 and January 2012, Monisha Merchant from Senator Bennet’s office, Pam Reichert from Metro Denver Economic Development Corp and I led a team that drafted and submitted Colorado’s Business Case for a Satellite Patent Office,” Posthumus said. This was done in response to the USPTO’s request for comments on where the USPTO should place the offices. Over 500 submissions were made from 52 cities in 38 states. On July 1, 2012, the USPTO announced that Denver, San Jose, and Dallas were to receive satellite offices.
Posthumus explained that the Rocky Mountain Regional Satellite office in Denver marks an unprecedented and historic moment for the USPTO. “Never in its history has the USPTO had a base of operations that extended west beyond the Mississippi. The USPTO has operated exclusively for more than 200 years in the Washington, D.C. area until July 2012, when the USPTO opened its first satellite office in Detroit,” he said. According to Posthumus, while the Detroit office was a small step geographically speaking, the Denver office is a huge step toward a national presence by the USPTO. Its central U.S. location will provide unprecedented access to inventors and entrepreneurs in the western part of the country, satisfying an important Section 23 objective of the America Invents Act (AIA) – better connecting patent filers and innovators with the patent office.
The metro Denver region has one of the highest per capita rates of workers with science and technology degrees, has low living costs and offers a desirable location in which to recruit and retain the most talented workers so they can pursue a quality of life. In fact, just last year Forbes ranked metro Denver as a top-10 metro area for largest relocation of young workers aged 15-29. Home to four major public universities and 24 federal laboratories, 600 bioscience companies, a growing high-tech industry, and the third-largest aerospace economy, companies in Colorado are primed for innovation. In fact, between 2007 and 2010, more than 20,000 Colorado inventors filed patent applications in industries including sustainable energy research and development, Internet entrepreneurship, premier biosciences and aerospace technologies.
Tom Clark, CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC), said, “Colorado ranks among the top states for entrepreneurial activity and the new satellite patent office will not only educate local and regional entrepreneurs about the patent process, but it also makes a strong statement that Metro Denver’s companies and inventors are sophisticated when it comes to innovation in the business landscape.”
Steve Katsaros, inventor and founder of Denver-based Nokero, is an example of a Colorado entrepreneur and believes the satellite office will aid in attracting more of the most talented inventors to the community. He said, “As the world becomes more connected, intellectual property rights are imperative to almost every business. This satellite office will make the community of Colorado patent and technology experts a more cohesive group fostering even more innovation in our region.”