Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, December 17, 2010

Federal patent office satellite to aid U-M, Forrest says

Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest says the announcement Thursday that the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office would open a satellite office in Detroit is a positive development for the university and the region.

"The opening of a satellite office for the PTO in Detroit will have enormous benefits for the region, and of course, also for the University of Michigan," Forrest says.  "The ability to do patent business at an office in Detroit will be a boon to the many educational institutions and knowledge-based industries in the larger region.  We thank our Michigan delegation and Governor (Jennifer) Granholm in consultation with U-M and local industry for making this important move possible."

Here is the press release of the announcement from the patent office:

U.S. Commerce Department's Patent and Trademark Office to Open First Ever Satellite Office in Detroit

Detroit office launches Nationwide Workforce Program and is expected to create more than 100 new jobs and boostregion's innovation economy

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) David Kappos announced today plans to open the first ever USPTO satellite office in Detroit, Mich., in 2011. The new office is expected to create more than 100 new jobs in its first year and provide a boost to the region's innovation economy.  

The office will represent the first phase of the USPTO's Nationwide Workforce Program, an effort to hire more patent examiners and seek out additional resources and technical expertise in locations across the country.

"The current backlog of patent applications delays the commercialization of American innovation and the creation of new jobs and economic growth," Locke said. "Recruiting and retaining top patent examiners from across the country is an integral part of reducing the backlog. We're very excited to bring the first ever satellite office of our nation's innovation agency to one of the country's most important innovation centers—the city of Detroit."

The Detroit office will enable the USPTO to draw upon Michigan's highly qualified workforce to help reduce the backlog of more than 700,000 patent applications. A year ago, the patent backlog stood at nearly 750,000 applications, but an agency push to get it below 700,000 has led to the first significant reduction in the patent backlog in a decade.

"The Nationwide Workforce Program represents a shift in the way the USPTO does business from a human capital and stakeholder outreach perspective," Kappos said. "Establishing satellite offices in geographically and economically diverse areas of the country will enable the agency to better recruit and retain a broad range of talented patent professionals." 

Following an evaluation of the first satellite office, the USPTO will consider opening additional offices, which would provide the patent applicant community and our nation's innovators greater access to the USPTO and the services it offers.

"We're thrilled that the U.S. Commerce Department has chosen Detroit as the site to open a new satellite office, which means more than 100 new, high-paying jobs right here in Michigan," Granholm said. "The new satellite office will help serve our state's innovators and entrepreneurs to make sure they have the resources needed to succeed."

A specific location and anticipated opening date for the new Detroit office will be announced in the coming months. The office will work closely with the Commerce Department's CommerceConnect facility in Pontiac, Mich.

The USPTO considered a broad range of factors in its decision to locate the new satellite office in Detroit. The city fulfilled a number of critical criteria, including having a high percentage of scientists and engineers in the workforce; providing access to major research institutions, particularly leading universities; and supporting a high volume of patenting activity and significant numbers of patent agents and attorneys in the area. 

As the USPTO explores expansion into other areas of the country, the agency will continue to engage with employees and stakeholders to determine the most effective use of satellite offices as centers of applicant and public engagement, as well as the most efficient distribution of human resources.