State of Innovation

Patents and Innovation Economics

USPTO Announce First Satellite Office

I have been an advocate of satellite patent offices.  The USPTO just announced that it will be opening an satellite office in Detroit in 2011.  Here is what I have said earlier about satellite patent offices:

The USPTO is located in Arlington Virginia, next to Washington D.C., where the cost of living is expensive and the 9000 government employees have little significance to the state of Virginia.  By having USPTO west in Denver, Portland, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis, etc. or some combination thereof, examiner retention rates are likely to significantly increase, since the cost of living is lower.  The pool of qualified, English speaking applicants for patent examiners would increase, since the USPTO has admitted they have a hard time keeping examiners who are not from the northeast.

The USPTO mission is about promoting technology and it makes sense that the USPTO should be located near the centers of technology, not the center of political power.  By having the USPTO near great centers of innovation, examiners are more likely to have a better understanding of the underlying technologies they examine.  Locating the USPTO in multiple congressional districts increases the likelihood it will remain fully funded.

The full press release from the USPTO is reproduced below:

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,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. “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.


December 29, 2010 - Posted by | Patents


  1. Have you seen this one?

    Comment by step back | January 11, 2011 | Reply

    • Stepback,

      Thanks. Tainter does not understand that inventing (knowledge) is not subject to diminishing returns. His thesis is a repeat of many economists since Adam Smith, who all suggested that eventually we would reach some sort of maximum in the economy and could not grow beyond this. It is amazing how many academics make a living recycling information that centuries old, while passing it off as scholarship. This would definitely not survive a 102(b) rejection.

      Comment by dbhalling | January 11, 2011 | Reply

  2. DB, Truly; I do grok your wish for “our best days are ahead of us” optimism.

    But that said, even in my day-to-day practice I see a massive decline in number of US based inventors, a decline in go-it-alone inventors and I see very few “simple” as opposed to ever more complexified inventions.

    Comment by step back | January 11, 2011 | Reply

    • Stepback, you see a decline in the number of US inventors because SOX and the Patent Office have made it difficult to obtain funding. As for the increasing complexity, I would say that has more to do with your particular clients than the economy generally. Many entrepreneurs think it is easier and less expensive to create new products today than anytime in history.

      Comment by dbhalling | January 11, 2011 | Reply

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