The ribbon was several sheets of metal. The scissors, bolt cutters. And when the ribbon hit the floor Thursday, Silicon Valley finally had a permanent regional shop for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The regional office, set inside San Jose City Hall, covers three floors. It will employ 80 patent examiners and has 21 judges as of now. Twenty examiners are starting on Monday and, after a four-month training process, plus a six-week trial run with real patents, several more will be added. "With the passing of the patent bill, we were excited to get [the patent process] out of Alexandria, closer to the inventors," said Representative Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, referring to the America Invents Act that President Obama signed into law in 2011. "I was kind of surprised that the first office went to Detroit. Go figure."
Until now, the local office, which is to serve California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Alaska and Hawaii, had been in temporary quarters in Menlo Park.
Michelle Lee, director of the U.S. PTO, provided a tour of the premises on Thursday. "This is our Nevada room, named because it kind of looks like Nevada," Lee said. "And this is our Alaska room, which looks nothing like Alaska." The rooms are meant to pair patent examiners with local technology experts to better educate and inform the patent review process.
McDermott, Will & Emery partner Fabio Marino said that, by putting an office in Silicon Valley, top tech talent will be able to better inform judges and examiners on their inventions and on other inventions in the region. That, in turn, will bring better examiners who are excited to work more closely with technology, he said.
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