Patent Applications to Be Reviewed Outside Washington for First Time in History

Innovative American businesses and entrepreneurs may no longer have to send their ideas off to Washington D.C. and wait years for patent approval. The US Commerce Department has announced plans to open four regional patent offices in order to clear out the backlog of patent applications and to help spur innovation and growth among American businesses.

U.S. Patent Office

Some critics may not agree with the added expense of the satellite offices, but lawmakers from both sides of the aisle backed the idea of adding satellite offices last year because of the overwhelming amount of patent applications currently awaiting approval. With the new offices, the US Patent and Trademark Office hopes to work through the applications more quickly and get the nation’s innovative companies and individuals back on track. They also hope the extra offices will help businesses to protect their intellectual property and hopefully to create some jobs in the process.

Currently, those waiting for approval on patent applications may have to wait up to three years, and more and more are filed each day. The four satellite offices will be located in Detroit, Dallas, Denver, and Silicon Valley. According to the USPTO’s official announcement, the site selection for the new offices was based on public input, meetings with state and local officials, and factors such as geographical diversity, regional economic impact, and ability to recruit and obtain employees. This is the first time in the USPTO’s more than 200-year history that patents will be examined outside of the Washington metropolitan area.

The first satellite office in Detroit will open on July 13. The USPTO plans to create a timeline for the additional three offices within the next few months.

And this may not be the last big change American innovators can expect from the USPTO. The satellite offices are being established as part of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011, which includes a larger effort to modernize the US patent system over the next several years.

Image of U.S. Patent Office Interior courtesy of Library of Congress.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

4 Reactions
  1. Hopefully they also give patent reviewers the ability to throw out overly broad patents that usually lead to lawsuits later.

  2. It’s a myth that patents spur innovation, especially as relates to software. They actually inhibit innovation as can easily be seen from the patent war chests big tech companies are building to fight each other with. We need to radically revise what is patentable, not crank up a system to generate new lawsuits.

  3. This is good news for small business America. Many companies want to build their intellectual real estate, and this will help speed up the process.

  4. Wait, they are opening a Patent review office in one of the worst educated cities in America? “The first satellite office in Detroit will open on July 13” My God we want to trust that process to a city with one of the highest illiteracy rates in the nation. That list reads more like a kickback operation for Dems. Dallas along with Austin are two of Texas’ most liberal cities. This reeks of Democrat kickback.