"I think it could only help that Colorado ends up being more of that one-stop shop," he said.
In addition to culling the patent application lag time, the Denver satellite office also could provide boosts to tourism, a reduction in travel expenditures from local firms, increased education about the process and a potential for stronger patents because of more one-on-one interviews, local businesses and officials say.
"We're happy the satellite office is coming here," Scott McCarty, a spokesman for Broomfield-based Ball Corp., said in a statement e-mailed to the Camera. "It will assist us in our efforts to obtain patents in a cost-effective manner, and is a benefit to Colorado economy. From a local business perspective, it may also help reduce travel costs to
The full makeup of Denver's office -- including the location, number of employees and specific offerings -- remains in development. Patent officials are next expected to visit potential sites and connect with local officials during the week of Aug. 6.
Initially, the site is expected to employ 125 people. That number could grow depending on the need and level of talent, said Azam Khan, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's deputy chief of staff.
"We think we can be extremely effective in recruiting and attaining top engineering talent (in Colorado)," he said.
It is unclear when the Denver office could open. Under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act -- a law passed in September 2011 that brings a slate of sweeping changes to the patent process -- the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has to open at least three satellite offices by Sept. 16, 2014.
Cutting the backlog
When Denver and the others do come online, the expectation is that they would further eat away at the backlog that currently sits at 630,000 applications.
"We're definitely headed in the right direction," Khan said. "We're not near where we want to be yet."
Optimally, patent officials want to halve that inventory, bring the number of applications in process down to 300,000 and have applicants receive a "first action" from the patent office in 10 months with a 20-month average for the final action.
The lessening of the backlog is welcome to IBM Corp., said Manny Schecter, the technology giant's chief patent counsel. Big Blue, which is Boulder County's largest employer, invests about $6 billion in research and development annually and receives about $1 billion in income from licensing intellectual property.
"The thing that concerned us for a long time was that we were going the wrong direction, pendencies were getting longer," Schecter said. "That meant the ability to protect our technologies or developments were weakening."
Brett Huston, the general counsel at Boulder's Spectra Logic, said the delays have not hindered his local firm to any dramatic extent. However, increasing the efficiency of the patent process should benefit firms such as Spectra Logic that view patents as valuable and necessary assets.
During the past 10 years, Spectra Logic filed close to 150 patent applications. The firm also awards bonuses to employees who invent and patent technologies.
"We've gone from a $25 million-a-year company to close to a $100 million-a-year company in the last 10 years," Huston said. "And in some part (that is) due to the fact that we have so many patents in our portfolio."
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