SAN JOSE, Calif. – 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 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 patent judges and reviewers will help inventors and entrepreneurs cut through red tape. The California Assembly speaker’s office is also donating $500,000 for the office.
“It’s a great relief,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., who has pressed for years to bring the office to his constituents.
“This is going to really help our entrepreneurs protect intellectual property, help them attract capital, and bottom line, it’s going to create jobs,” Honda said.
San Jose is the nation’s top patent-producing city, with more than 7,000 patents sought last year, and California is the nation’s patent leader, with seven of the top 10 patent-producing cities. But for more than 200 years, patent seekers needed to visit offices in Alexandria, Va., if they wanted to meet with a patent judge.
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.
But in August, the General Services Administration – which owns and operates federal properties – said it was suspending its search for permanent patent office space in Silicon Valley, citing federal budget cuts known as sequestration. Technology leaders from industry heavyweights including Google Inc. objected on the grounds that patent offices are supported by the $2.8 billion in annual patent fees.