The U.S. Patent & Trade Office (USPTO) announced on Monday a major expansion of its operations. The Department of Commerce said it will be opening new offices in Silicon Valley, along with Dallas, TX and Denver, CO. A new office in Detroit, MI was announced earlier this year.
New Patent Office Locations
The move comes amidst a major expansion in the number of patents being applied for, especially by companies based in Silicon Valley. The USPTO said that it hopes the new offices will help cut down on the backlog of patent applications being generated every year.
The agency has heretofore been based solely out of Alexandria, VA, near the nation’s capital. The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 required the agency to open regional offices, and Bloomberg reported that the Silicon Valley Leadership Group has been lobbying for a new office in the area for more than three years.
“By expanding our operation outside of the Washington metropolitan area for the first time in our agency’s 200-plus year history, we are taking unprecedented steps to recruit a diverse range of talented technical experts, creating new opportunities across the American workforce,” David Kappos, Director of the USPTO, said in a statement. “These efforts, in conjunction with our ongoing implementation of the America Invents Act, are improving the effectiveness of our IP system, and breathing new life into the innovation ecosystem.”
The U.S. patent system has come under heavy criticism in recent years. Not only is there the above-mentioned backlog of some 640,000 patents awaiting a first review, the USPTO has been frequently criticized for issuing patents too lightly. The AIA was intended to improve that process.
The USPTO hasn’t yet announced when the new offices will open. Being a bureaucracy, it’s likely to not be lightning-fast process, however, and the first step will be to, “begin site procurement activity and establish a timeline” in “later months.”