Silicon Valley patent office to open in San Jose

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — The U.S. Commerce Department has announced plans to open a long-awaited patent office in Silicon Valley, the world's top region for patent filers.

Commerce officials said on Tuesday the city of San Jose is donating two years of rent-free office space in San Jose City Hall, where more than 80 new hires will help inventors and entrepreneurs cut through red tape.

San Jose is the nation's top patent-producing city, with more than 7,000 patents last year, and California is the nation's patent leader, with seven of the top 10 patent-producing cities. But until now, patent seekers needed to visit offices in Alexandria, Va.

A 2011 law raised patent fees in exchange for promises from officials to use those new revenues to speed up the patent process and establish four satellite offices for the first time in the agency's 200-plus year history. The first opened in Detroit in July, 2012.

But the Silicon Valley office was postponed by federal budget cuts known as sequestration, a move technology leaders in the region objected to on the grounds that patent offices are supported by the $2.8 billion in annual patent fees.

While waiting, the Silicon Valley Patent Office Director Michelle Lee, a former Google patent law division head, has been working out of a small, temporary space with just a handful of administrative judges in rooms borrowed from another government agency in Menlo Park, Calif.

Lee and acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Patrick Gallagher planned to discuss details of the new, permanent office during a press call scheduled for Tuesday at 10 a.m. PST.