A last-minute campaign touting Las Vegas for an auxiliary U.S. Patent and Trademark office fell short Monday when patent officials announced the three satellite offices - and hundreds of high-paying jobs – will go elsewhere.
The agency said it would add offices in the Silicon Valley, Denver and Dallas areas to an already-selected spot in Detroit as part of a program to reduce its backlog and to hire experts unwilling to move to the Washington, D.C., area. The patent office has always operated out of one office in or near the capital.
“It’s disappointing, but I think this is a program (that) makes sense to expand to other cities,” said Derek Jamison, an attorney and member of the State Bar of Nevada’s Intellectual Property Law Section. Section members swung into action to pitch Las Vegas as a satellite venue to beat a Jan. 30 patent office deadline for submitting comments on the selection process.
Jamison said he thought Las Vegas scored as well as, if not better than, Silicon Valley on some of the five standards that the patent office, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, used in selecting the satellite locations. In particular, Las Vegas has a lower cost of living than Northern California.
But in a statement, the patent office noted that the selections spread the satellites among three time zones. In addition, the office highlighted Dallas and Silicon Valley as having large populations of engineers, while Denver combined low-cost of living with a “sought-after place to live and work.”
From one aspect, Las Vegas was out-lobbied. Only 19 letters were placed on the official record, compared with 42 for Denver and 77 for the Silicon Valley. Most of those from Texas supported an office in Austin.
The Detroit office will open July 13. No timetable was given for opening the others.
The selection of Silicon Valley underscores the growing importance of patents in high-tech innovation. Phone makers, for instance, have been suing each other over the originality of designs and concepts. Yahoo and Facebook also have lawsuits over social-networking technology.
Having experts review patents in the field could speed approvals. It’s unclear whether they would help reduce broad patents that have triggered legal disputes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 387-5290.