Word of a big win for Silicon Valley came July 2 from the U.S. Commerce Department. For the first time in its history, the United States Patent and Trademark Office will open four offices outside of Virginia, and the western region office will be located in Silicon Valley. California produces one quarter of the approximately 500,000 patents filed annually in the United States. The volume of filings has created a year-long backlog, which encouraged President Obama to direct that four new offices be opened by 2014. The selected locations were chosen from 600 applicants and were required to demonstrate the ability to conduct outreach to the patent applicant community, the ability to recruit top talent at the Patent and Trade Office, the ability to retain top talent, the potential economic impact of the office on the selected communities and geographic diversity of selected offices.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, the City of San Jose and San Jose State University led a major effort to locate this office in Silicon Valley, and we applaud their success. Though early reports mentioned San Jose, as of this date a specific city in Silicon Valley has not been finalized. SPUR strongly supports downtown San Jose as the right location. The city’s access to intellectual capital and major universities with strong engineering programs, its multiple public transportation systems and its airport make San Jose a worthy selection. The three other U.S. cities that will receive patent offices are Detroit, Dallas and Denver.
We believe there could be some significant clustering benefits around this patent office, similar to the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Mission Bay in San Francisco but on a much larger scale. We hope the commerce department will get the details right as this moves forward — in particular locating the patent office in downtown San Jose, where it could function as an anchor for legal and professional services in a central, transit-rich location.