by Dennis Crouch
The USPTO began establishing satellite offices a decade ago to expand beyond the traditional Alexandria (Washington DC) headquarters. We now have offices in Detroit, Dallas, Denver, and San Jose. Last year, Congress voted to further expand the decentralization by at least one more. The Unleashing American Innovators Act of 2022 (UAIA) mandates creation of a Southeast Regional Office (SERO). The USPTO is now seeking comments on where the office should be located — and the methodology it should use in selecting a location. [Fed Reg].
The statute requires that it be located in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, or Arkansas. I would automatically rule-out Virginia and North Carolina as too close to the PTO HQ; and also rule-out Arkansas as too close to the Dallas Office. In my mind, I quickly narrowed things down to four potential cities: Atlanta, Jacksonville, Miami, and Nashville.
In my comments to the PTO, I will be including the results of this poll: LinkedIn Poll. Voting is open for a few more days. Atlanta is currently in the lead.
The core objective here is to is to deliver better services to citizens and inventors in the region; be more responsive to their needs; and drive positive changes in these regions. Simultaneously, the Community Outreach Office aims to provide a platform for dialogue, bridging the gap between citizens and the government. The statute sets out five particular considerations:
- Strengthen connections between the Office and patent filers through enhanced outreach to a broad spectrum of innovators including underrepresented, rural, low-income, and student populations.
- Improve retention of diverse patent examiners and judges, taking into account economic, geographic, and demographic factors.
- Enhance the recruitment process to attract more high-quality patent examiners.
- Reduce the backlog of pending patent applications.
- Elevate the standards of patent examination to ensure greater accuracy and quality.
In addition to the new Southeast Regional Office, the PTO has also been tasked with opening a “Northern New England Community Outreach Office (NNECOO)” and the PTO is seeking comments on its location as well. The USPTO will be also be conducting a study to identify whether more regional offices would benefit US innovation.