Monday, July 2, 2012

DFW selected for one of three regional patent offices - Fort Worth Star Telegram

Dallas-Fort Worth was one of three metro areas picked by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for regional offices that will open in the next couple of years to help lower the backlog of unexamined patent applications, the Commerce Department said Monday.

Commerce officials said they have scheduled trips next week to North Texas, as well as the other two sites in Denver and California's Silicon Valley, to begin the process of finding specific sites. A regional patent office will open in Detroit on July 13.Vikrum Aiyer, a Commerce Department spokesman, said that the entire DFW area is under consideration for the office, but he could not be more specific about where the search will be focused.The size of the regional offices will be guided by the Detroit office, he said, which will be 31,000 square feet of leased space and have 120 employees."All of that is still to be determined," Aiyer said.Congress approved expanding the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by 2014.David Berzina, executive vice president of economic development for the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, said the selection is recognition that Dallas-Fort Worth is an emerging location for many 21st-century jobs and industries."It's a point of pride," Berzina said. "The region is emerging as a high-tech player. Whether it's Fort Worth, Arlington or Dallas ... this is big news."Until now, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has operated only in Alexandria, Va., where it employs about 10,000. The backlog of applications is about 620,000.The cities were narrowed from a list of about 50 metro areas and selected after the department received more than 600 comments from the general public, city and state officials and the business community since November.The areas were also selected on their ability to conduct outreach to patent applicants, ability to recruit and retain patent examiners and appeals judges, geographic diversity and a ready pool of military veterans.DFW was selected because it is in the South, in the Central time zone, and is "exceedingly rich in engineering talent, patent applicants and patent grants," the Commerce Department said.Brian Yost, a Fort Worth patent attorney with Decker Jones, said that North Texas "is a hotbed of innovation and technology."He said a regional office will give applicants the chance to meet with patent examiners and improve their chances for approval.Currently, applicants have to travel to Washington to speak with an examiner.It can take two to three years and $10,000 to $15,000 to see a patent application through the process, Yost said.Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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