Good news for Silicon Valley, where griping about the nation’s patent system has become a favorite hobby: Inventors will no longer have to trek all the way to the nation’s capitol to complain.
On Tuesday, the Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office announced that the San Jose City Hall building had been picked as the permanent home of a new regional patent office.
“This patent office is about tapping and unleashing the kind of economic growth, job creation, and prosperity an innovation economy offers our entire country,” Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) said in a statement. “That’s because California, and the Valley in particular, are innovation powerhouses that will soon benefit from the extraordinary effort that went into landing this new patent office.”
For most of its history, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had offices only in Washington. Then a couple of years ago, the agency announced its first regional office.
Upon word of the Motor City being picked, Silicon Valley boosters collectively began smacking their palms against their foreheads. This began a regional campaign to get another patent office in the place that produces more patents than anywhere else in the country.
That lobbying paid off two years ago when President Obama signed a patent reform bill that called for at least three more satellite offices. Dallas and Denver were picked along with Silicon Valley.
Ah, but where in Silicon Valley? More drama.
Patent officials began hunting high and low for space, which turned out to be rotten timing given the accelerating boom in the region that saw tech firms gobbling up offices.
Then, the search got put on hold last summer because of budget cuts caused by sequestration.
But with the lights back on in the nation’s capitol, the search began again. And the result was the city of San Jose offering two years of free rent and three years of rent discounts at its city hall.
The new patent office will have space for patent examiners, a trial and appeals board, and training facilities. Folks in Silicon Valley hope that the patent office in San Jose will be able to draw on local expertise to help improve the quality of patents being issued.