The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced on Tuesday it plans to open a permanent office in Silicon Valley next year. The USPTO also outlined plans to expand operations by hiring new Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) judges and patent examiners who will be based in the new regional office.
The City of San Jose has offered approximately 40,000 square feet of permanent office space in its City Hall, located at 200 East Santa Clara Street. Since its opening in April, the satellite office has been operating out of a temporary 4,700 square foot space in Menlo Park. The search for permanent office space was put on hold in July due to sequestration. The USPTO plans to start occupying the permanent space in San Jose by the end of 2014.
In addition to providing office space for patent examiners and PTAB judges, an examiner training facility and public hearing rooms for PTAB proceedings, including its trial proceedings, are planned for the permanent space. PTAB trials are designed to clarify the quality and certainty of a patent right and serve as a low-cost and efficient alternative to litigation in the federal court system.
Additionally, small businesses and entrepreneurs will be able to learn about USPTO services, meet with examiners, and access the USPTO’s comprehensive search databases. The space will also provide public access to search equipment and teleconference capabilities to facilitate in-person and virtual meetings with examiners.
Until the new San Jose City Hall space is ready, Silicon Valley Office Director Michelle Lee and nine PTAB judges will continue working from the temporary Menlo Park location. The USPTO plans to staff the permanent office with at least 60 patent examiner hires and approximately 20 PTAB judges in its first year of operation. The USPTO believes the new hires and the efficiencies of having a permanent Silicon Valley facility will help cut down on its backlog of patent applications. The permanent office is also expected to facilitate the patent application process and post-grant review proceedings for the region’s many startup companies, many of which are working with tight legal budgets. Once the permanent Silicon Valley Office is opened, some applicant interviews with patent examiners and PTAB trials can be conducted in San Jose rather than requiring travel to Washington DC.
The America Invents Act, signed into law by President Obama in September 2011, called for the USPTO to establish three or more satellite offices, subject to available resources. The USPTO opened its first permanent office space in Detroit in July 2012. The USPTO has identified permanent locations for the remaining satellite offices in Dallas and Denver.
Further details are provided in the USPTO’s press release: http://www.uspto.gov/news/pr/2013/13-33.jsp