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Denver Opening Remarks

Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for IP and USPTO Deputy Director Michelle K. Lee

Opening Ceremony for the Rocky Mountain Satellite Office

Denver, Colorado

June 30, 2014

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, and thank you everyone. This is a great day for the United States Patent and Trademark Office and for the Rocky Mountain Region. More than two centuries after Thomas Jefferson examined the first American patent, we’re doing something he couldn’t have imagined when he later sent Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition: We’re standing up our first permanent office west of the Mississippi River.

Since the days of those first intrepid explorers, the American West has been a source of great energy, vitality, and innovation in our nation’s history, a land of bold pioneers and risk-takers. Today they are people like Steve Katsaros, who are making the world a better place by leaps and bounds. Inventors like Steve are the reason we’re opening this office here, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Our goal is to ensure that current and future inventors like them have access to the resources they need to keep our nation at the cutting-edge of innovation for generations to come.

After spending a year as the first director of our temporary office in the Silicon Valley, I can personally vouch for the value and strategic importance these offices provide for our agency and for the local innovation communities they serve. They are an important part of the president’s vision that “The nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender”—as he said in his last State of the Union address.

They are also an important part of the Commerce Department’s “Open for Business” agenda, under which Secretary Pritzker is committed to ensuring that small businesses and entrepreneurs have the resources they need to grow and compete globally. Working with the local community, this office will be a hub of innovation and a one-stop shop for business needs that puts tools from throughout the Department of Commerce into the hands of individuals who need assistance at every step of the business lifecycle. It will also help expedite the patent examination process and advance cutting-edge ideas to the marketplace, where they will create more jobs and spur additional, groundbreaking innovations.

And let me just say, we couldn’t have made it this far without the government officials and regional stakeholders here today, who responded so enthusiastically to the great potential of our satellite offices and helped make this one a reality.

They include Senators Bennet and Udall; Representatives Gardner and Perlmutter; Mayor Hancock; Acting Deputy Secretary Andrews, and their respective staffs; as well as Chancellors Martin, Katz, and Keables, the Chamber of Commerce, economic development corporations, and overall inventor community. These leaders and others have been instrumental in getting us off the ground. 

I also want to acknowledge Monisha Merchant of Senator Bennett’s staff, and Molly Kocialski & John Posthumus of the Colorado Bar. Their commitment to American businesses and Rocky Mountain entrepreneurs is truly commendable and further proof that the public and private sector can do great things together. Their commitment to American businesses and entrepreneurs is truly commendable and further proof that the public and private sector can do great things together.

In total this office will create about 130 jobs and eventually house patent examiners, Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges, and regional outreach officials. By retaining and hiring more talented examiners locally, we can further improve the overall quality and transparency of our operations while continuing to reduce patent pendency on a national scale. And the addition of more judges, whose talented chief judge you will hear from shortly, will help us reduce the overall inventory of trial and appeal cases before the USPTO.

More importantly, this office will play an indispensable role in the ability of our agency to provide outreach and education to all of our stakeholders in the region, and not simply those fortunate enough to be in the D.C. area or who have the budget to travel there. So while the investment may be local, the return on that investment extends far beyond the walls of this new office.  

The USPTO is approaching its 225th anniversary next year, and throughout the agency’s history our focus hasn’t wavered.

Our commitment was, is, and always will be, to do everything we can to help foster an intellectual property system that provides American entrepreneurs with:

  • the incentives they need to innovate;
  • the tools to help them produce and protect their creative output;
  • and the certainty they need to seek investments and balance risk while developing new technologies that benefit us all.

To the incoming examiners, judges, and staff for this new office, let me just say, congratulations and good luck. You are part of an outstanding team, and an historic undertaking. The lessons learned and the best practices developed here will be applied to other offices soon to follow in Dallas, Texas and San Jose, California. Together, they will allow the USPTO to operate more cost-effectively and efficiently than ever before.

And to the hardest working team of colleagues I’ve known, many of whom are back in Alexandria watching this live: Thanks for making history possible here in the Mile High City.  I look forward to working with all of you in helping this office realize its full potential on behalf of inventors in the Rocky Mountain Region and across our nation.

And now, it’s my pleasure to introduce another staunch advocate of our patent system, a friend and an ally who has met with over 200 businesses, helped lead trade missions, and understands business concerns like few others. Most importantly, he’s the president’s nominee to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Commerce Department, where I know he will do a great job, as he always has.

Ladies and gentleman, Bruce Andrews.

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