The US Patent Office (USPTO) has added a satellite office in Denver, Colorado. The grand opening was held in downtown Denver on June 30th with opening remarks by Deputy Director Michelle Lee, Mayor Hancock, US Senators Bennet & Udall, US State Representatives Gardner & Perlmutter among others. The office is the first permanent PTO office west of the Mississippi River. There are plans to open offices in Dallas and San Jose in 2015 as well. The first satellite PTO office opened in July of 2012 in Detroit, changing the landscape for patent registration for the first time.
The new office in Denver plans to hire up to 140 employees including almost 100 patent examiners. Deputy Director Lee cautioned that this doesn't automatically mean that if you are an entrepreneur in the Rocky Mountain Region that your patent will be examined in the Denver office. Rather, to start all patents will be evaluated in the Virginia office and then distributed to the various offices based on availability of examiners and expertise of examiners. She did say that the Denver office will be hiring examiners with expertise relative to the local market. She cited the telephone industry as a local industry and the Denver patent office will most likely have experts in this area. Therefore if you are applying for a patent in that area of expertise, the chances are good that it will get examined locally. She did say that in the future the USPTO will evaluate the possibility of keeping local patent applications in a local office to help minimize impact to applicants.
Patent protection is a key element of many government contracts and grants, especially in the area of patent rights. Many contractors do not understand their patent rights when doing work for the government or work sponsored by the government. The Federal Acquisition Regulations have guidelines that are often empowered in contracts and grants covering the government's exclusive rights to intellectual property generated with funds from the government. It is imperative for a government contractor (or grant awardee) to understand which government regulations are being proposed in a contract (or grant) before the final negotiations. Many times, the government wants exclusive rights to use the patent (especially in the case of military contracts) but the company itself retains intellectual property protection in other cases. It can be different from contract to contract. ReliAscent has some people that have been through a lot is different contract vehicles with this terminology and can be invaluable in helping develop a strategy, not only for contract negotiation but for patent rights going forward.