On June 30th, Denver found itself at the center of an unprecedented and historic moment for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. At 19th and Stout in the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building, the USPTO opened the Rocky Mountain Regional Satellite Office, marking the first location west of the Mississippi. For over 200 years, the USPTO operated exclusively in the Washington, D.C. area until the first satellite office opened in Detroit in 2012. The opening of satellite offices in Dallas and Silicon Valley scheduled in the coming year will place one office in each time zone.
The new Denver office plans to hire 120 patent judges and examiners in its first year and will house 20 patent judges who will handle appeals. The office itself features a courtroom, public databases of patent records and state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities that will allow applicants to talk to officials in Alexandria, Virginia.
The opening of the Denver office has tremendous implications for the field of intellectual property as well as the city itself. The central location of the Denver office will provide inventors and entrepreneurs with better access to patent examiners and process requirements. In 2013, the patent office issued about 140,000 patents, with more than half of them coming from states west of the Mississippi. The Denver office will allow inventors and their lawyers to reduce budgets since travel to Virginia won’t be required. The new location provides the USPTO with an opportunity to recruit examiner and judge candidates with relevant technical and industry experience – Colorado is the second-most highly educated state in the nation and is among the top 10 for adults with science and engineering degrees, has four major research universities and 24 federally funded research laboratories. This solid intellectual base will surely keep the Denver patent office humming right from the start.
Beyond the creation of new jobs, the new Denver USPTO office is expected to have a positive economic impact on the region. A study by the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business predicted that the office will provide a $440 million impact to the region within the first five years in operation. In addition, Colorado will gain more recognition for innovation and may bring new companies to the region. The acting USPTO director Michelle K. Lee stated, “you’re going to find innovative companies that use the service of the PTO who are going to want to locate near the office.” Though Colorado has already seen unparalleled innovation from the likes of David Packard and Nikola Tesla, Colorado Senator Michael Bennett points out that “this helps brand the Rocky Mountain region as a forward-looking region, which it is.” According to a Brookings Institution assessment, four of the 100 most innovative metro areas in the U.S. are Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.
With the increase in companies and patent applications that the new office will bring, a correlating increase in intellectual property attorneys will occur and for many firms, already has. Some Denver firms have already been particularly aggressive in adding to their patent-law staff, some even recruiting from competing firms. The University of Colorado Law School has seen a growing interest in intellectual property classes. CU Law School dean Phil Weiser points out that “it will continue to provide more opportunities and momentum. People will be hearing more about careers in IP.”
Intellectual property growth and the resulting opportunities have a far and wide reach. Visual Advantage stands with many in welcoming the USPTO to the Rocky Mountain Region.