Monday, July 2, 2012

New Patent Offices & Courts

Today the USPTO announced plans to open regional USPTO offices in or around Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and Silicon Valley, California. These offices are in addition to the already-announced first USPTO satellite office to open on July 13 in Detroit, Michigan. The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities.

The offices announced today will help the USPTO attract talented IP experts throughout the country who will work closely with entrepreneurs to process patent applications, reduce the backlog of unexamined patents, and speed up the overall process, allowing businesses to move their innovation to market more quickly, and giving them more room to create new jobs.

"By expanding our operation outside of the Washington metropolitan area for the first time in our agency's 200-plus year history, we are taking unprecedented steps to recruit a diverse range of talented technical experts, creating new opportunities across the American workforce," said David Kappos, Director of the USPTO. "These efforts, in conjunction with our ongoing implementation of the America Invents Act, are improving the effectiveness of our IP system, and breathing new life into the innovation ecosystem."

Silicon Valley provides the USPTO with a pacific time zone hub in the heart of California's most vibrant innovation center. Silicon Valley, and the areas that surround it, contain many of the USPTO's top filers as well as legions of start-up and small tech companies that depend on the USPTO. Further, Silicon Valley's great quality of life and abundant population of engineering talent will provide fertile recruiting grounds for the Agency. The USPTO recognizes the challenges of retention in a hyper-competitive market, and will work to construct a concept of operations for the three offices that recognizes such challenges.

Meanwhile, on 29 June the European Union has finally settled on the sites for its first pan-European Unified Patent Court. The Court's Central Division of the Court of First Instance will be in Paris. Munich will be dealing with patents related to mechanical engineering, while London will handle patents related to the pharmaceutical industry and life sciences. The deal clears one of the final political hurdles on the way to a one-stop shop for patents to be granted in a single place and be valid across 25 countries.

The long-awaited decision paves the way for establishing less expensive, simpler and more efficient patent protection for businesses, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises, in the EU. Instead of applying for patent in 27 member states, businesses can now apply in one place.

The Unified Patent Court will have exclusive competence in respect of actions relating to the validity or infringement of a European unitary patent. This will eliminate the risk of multiple patent lawsuits in different member states concerning the same patent, as well as the risk that court rulings on the same dispute might differ from one member state to another. In addition, the single system will bring down patent litigation costs for businesses significantly. The European Commission has calculated that, with the single court, litigation expenses companies can be reduced by approximately 289 million euro each year.

The Unified Patent Court is part of the future unitary patent system in the EU. The other two elements are: a regulation on the unitary patent itself and a regulation on translation arrangements for that patent. The member states and the European Parliament agreed on the two regulations in December 2011.