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Director's Forum: A Blog from USPTO's Leadership

Tuesday Mar 25, 2014

An Update on Our Satellite Offices

Blog by Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

As we’ve done in the past, I’d like to take a moment to fill you in on the status of our satellite offices in Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Silicon Valley. Having spent the last year leading our team at the Silicon Valley office, keeping on top of all the developments related to our satellite offices is of particular interest to me. These offices are so important to inventors, entrepreneurs, and small businesses in the surrounding regions—and to our agency’s core mission of fostering American innovation and competitiveness.

Our Elijah J. McCoy Satellite Office in Detroit, which opened for business in July 2012, is meeting and exceeding the needs of the agency and the local innovation community. With approximately 100 patent examiners and eight administrative patent judges, the Detroit office continues to process patent applications, as well as manage appeal cases and America Invents Act (AIA) trials.

Having an office in Detroit has also enabled us to foster new partnerships with stakeholders, the local community and organizations such as the Henry Ford Museum and the Auto Harvest Foundation. Through these partnerships, Detroit office staff are participating in numerous outreach events, including IP conferences, IP bar association meetings, elementary school science fairs, and an initiative to help the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History start a program for children to understand the correlation between science, technology, engineering, math, art, and design and the creation and protection of intellectual property. The office has also been holding quarterly “Saturday Seminars” to train independent inventors and small businesses on the importance of IP protection (If you’re in the area, come to our next one on April 12).

In Silicon Valley, we’re moving forward with the city of San Jose to ensure our permanent office has the perfect space to suit our needs and the needs of local stakeholders. When it comes to community engagement, we’ll be doing a lot of what we do in our Detroit office, including local training programs and workshops while building partnerships with local innovators and others in the IP field. We’re aiming to start operations in San Jose City Hall in the spring of 2015. USPTO senior executive John Cabeca, who took over serving as Director of the Silicon Valley Office when I left, has been leading USPTO’s outreach in the region. A 25-year veteran of the agency, he is actively engaged with stakeholders across the Bay Area and doing a superb job.

Meanwhile, this Wednesday we’re hosting a Livestream recruitment event with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado as part of our search for top talent to hire for the Denver office. The event will feature a panel of USPTO supervisory and patent examiners who will talk about what their job entails, share their experiences working at the USPTO, and answer live questions. Concurrently, we’re reviewing candidates for the Denver office regional director and plan to make our selection in the coming months. We are also on track to move from the Denver Federal Center to occupy permanent space in the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building this July.

In Dallas, our staff has been operating out of the Santa Fe Federal Building since March 2013. The design-and-build phase of the permanent space in the Terminal Annex Federal Building will start early this spring with a planned occupancy in fall 2015. In the meantime, the USPTO and the Dallas Entrepreneur Center are collaborating on programs and exchanges designed to educate local entrepreneurs on the effectiveness of IP protection, similar to our Detroit “Saturday Seminars.”

For now, the temporary offices in Dallas, Denver, and Silicon Valley are staffed with Patent Trial and Appeal Board judges, whose main job is helping reduce the inventory of trial and appeal cases. We continue to hire judges as qualified candidates become available, and we will recruit patent examiners for each office as their permanent spaces near completion. All vacancy announcements for these offices are posted on usajobs.gov, so if you’re interested—or you know someone who might be—that’s where to look.

These satellite offices are critically important to the regional IP communities, and getting all of them operating at full strength is one of our major priorities as an agency. We are grateful to local government officials and regional stakeholders who have responded so enthusiastically to our satellite offices, and extend kudos to the hard-working USPTO personnel in each location. These offices would not exist without the hard work and support of many people inside and outside of our agency.

This year promises to be an exciting one for our satellite offices, and we will continue to keep you informed about major new developments.

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