Remarks by Director Michelle K. Lee at The Silicon Valley Regional Office Opening Ceremony

Director of the USPTO Michelle K. Lee

October 15, 2015, 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Silicon Valley Regional Office Opening Ceremony

“The Innovation Embassy”

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, and good morning everyone! What a pleasure to see so many friends in the audience! This is an incredible day—for the United States Patent and Trademark Office and innovators throughout the region. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and support of a lot of people here.

The opening of this office, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, is a very special moment for me, both personally and professionally. As a Silicon Valley native and someone who spent virtually her entire career in the Valley, the opportunity to define, shape, lead this office, as its first Director, is what attracted me to public service. I immediately recognized the tremendous impact this office would have in promoting innovation in the region and wanted to be a part of its creation, because I knew this office would make a difference in the community in which I was fortunate enough to grow up.  So here we are today, opening the permanent office that so many of us worked so hard to bring to fruition. I envision this office serving as a hub of innovation, education and outreach—an “Embassy of Innovation,” if you will to the Silicon Valley, to California, and to the larger region. West Coast innovators and entrepreneurs who want firsthand engagement with our IP system shouldn’t have to fly across the country to do that. They should be able to do it right here, in their own backyard. And now they will be able to do so.

Whether (1) meeting with a patent examiner (in person or via a secure video link) to discuss an application, (2) appearing before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, or (3) providing technical training on the state of the art of a given technology area to our examiners, innovators and entrepreneurs across the region will have easier access to a wider range of services offered by the USPTO with benefits for innovation. The new examiners hired here will join our nationwide workforce to further reduce the backlog of unexamined patent applications,  so deserving new ideas and technologies—including those created here and across the West Coast—can reach the marketplace more quickly, creating jobs and making a difference in the world. Also, our local presence will allow us to more adroitly respond to the emerging needs of innovators across the region and to work with community partners in industry, academia and government to better support all innovators and entrepreneurs, big and small.

This last point is particularly important to the administration. President Obama, Commerce Secretary Pritzker, and I are committed to ensuring innovators and entrepreneurs have the resources and IP protections they need to compete and grow in today’s global economy. Which is why I’m pleased to announce, in conjunction with the opening of this office, our new USPTO Startup Partnership. At its core, this robust, public-private collaboration with area innovators will allow us to do three things:  

  1. Ensure startups have more and easier access to information about IP and how it can help support their business goals,
  2. Tailor existing IP resources and programs to the distinct needs of the startup community,
  3. And develop new IP resources when and where appropriate to better serve this critical component of our economy.

In the meantime, our current resources for startups have been bundled together in a one-stop shop on our website, We offer so many services in support of startups, and want to make it easy for young companies to known what, where and how they can tap into these resources. Through our Startup Partnership and this office, we want to hear from all members of the local innovation community (big and small, not just in the Silicon Valley but throughout the West Coast region): What we’re doing well, what we can do better, and what else we can do to better serve your needs.

This is your office, so take advantage of the resources it offers and let us know how we can customize our offerings to better meet your needs. We wouldn’t be here without the tremendous community support and we’re so fortunate to have the City of San Jose as a close and trusted partner. I know our teams worked tirelessly together on every detail and I would like to thank everyone from the city and USPTO teams who came together to make this office a reality. 

I would also like to recognize the large contingent from the USPTO watching our ceremony remotely back in Alexandria. Thank you for all you did to help the USPTO establish a regional presence on the west coast. And without further ado, I invite my fellow speakers to join me on stage, so we can cut the ribbon and officially open the new USPTO Silicon Valley Regional Office!

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