Up and Running in Detroit
Guest blog by Deputy Director Teresa Stanek Rea
Our first-ever USPTO satellite office is off and running. I saw evidence of that first-hand after a recent, post-opening visit to the Elijah J. McCoy satellite office in Detroit. The examiners and their colleagues on the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) are our first “western pioneers,” so I was curious about their experiences so far and it prompted my return to Detroit.
It was only mid-July when I participated in the opening of the office, and on my subsequent visit in August, patent examiners had recently finished their month-long training program in the lab and moved to their new offices. We are committed to ensuring that all our examiners, whether they are located in Alexandria or in our satellite offices have the tools they need to do the best job they can. And, indeed, they’re doing that job. In fact, when I visited in August they had already completed their first in-person examiner interview.
When I was there, I spent some time with our senior staff, including our Regional Manager Robin Evans and Resource SPE Boyer Ashley, who told me of the interview. It turns out that the examiner doing the interview works from home full time and lives in the Detroit region. The attorneys flew from Denver and Silicon Valley—coincidentally the location of two of our future satellite offices—for the interview, and the primary examiner participated via a video conference from his home office in Pennsylvania. At the conclusion of the interview, the attorneys were excited that they were the first interview held in the Detroit satellite office, and they were of course also pleased with the indication of possible allowable subject matter. This is a great example of how the Detroit USPTO and the future satellite offices will serve the needs of our entire country, engaging attorneys and applicants throughout the country and allowing our employees to telework or work in the satellite offices.
I also met with our BPAI (soon to be Patent Trial and Appeal Board) Detroit judges. I am a member of the Board, and I shared with them some of my experiences working on cases. We talked about the challenges they face using new software and procedures and familiarizing themselves with the BPAI’s procedures and systems. The Detroit judges are excited to be a part of our USPTO team and are looking forward to working with their Alexandria counterparts. They are especially looking forward to conducting oral hearings and conferencing cases using some of our collaborative software tools.
It was such a pleasure to me, a native of the Detroit area, to go home and see the great work that our folks are doing on the ground in Michigan. At the one-month mark, the USPTO Detroit satellite office is up and running and serving the needs of patent applicants. I couldn’t be prouder of the work they are doing.