On December 16, 2010, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced that Detroit will be the site of the first satellite or “regional” office for the USPTO. In a conference call with reporters, Secretary Locke joined with USPTO Director David Kappos and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to make the announcement and field questions.
Why a regional office? Secretary Locke and Director Kappos cited the backlog of pending applications — currently more than 700,000 — and the difficulty in recruiting qualified patent examiners to the Washington, D.C. area. According to the USPTO Patent Dashboard, on average the USPTO does not issue any substantive action on a patent application until 24.9 months after the filing of the application and does not grant a patent until 34.9 months after the filing date. Secretary Locke provided a goal of "one year review," according to reports.
Why Detroit? Criteria considered included the concentration of scientists and engineers, access to universities, volume of patent activity, and the number of patent attorneys and agents in the area. Future sites are being considered.
The Detroit regional office is expected to open in 2011 and will be staffed with more than 100 new employees, most of whom are expected to be hired out of the Detroit area. According to Director Kappos, many of the new examiners will specialize in fields compatible with new innovations taking shape in the Detroit region.
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Jeanne M. Gills
Vice Chair, IP Department
Andrew E. Rawlins
Chair, Mechanical & Electromechanical Technologies Practice
Chase J. Brill