As reported by IP Watchdog, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced yesterday that the first PTO satellite office will be opening in Detroit, Michigan during 2011. The plan is to intially hire about 100 patent examiners along with related support staff.
The PTO intends to focus technologies in the Detroit office on those that are represented by industry in the area. This would obviously include the automotive industry, but also others. There is still the question of PTO management presence in the Detroit office.
Given its reliance on manufacturing and especially the automotive industry, the economy of Detroit in particular and Michigan generally has been depressed for a number of years. Things there are worse than in most other areas of the country. The PTO recognized this as a location with a lot of scientific and legal talent that is unemployed or at least underemployed (plus it can’t hurt for additional votes).
The PTO also chose the location because it is near to a number of leading research universities. This appears to be a recognition of the huge amount of research taking place at Big Ten universities, including my alma mater, the University of Michigan.
This appears to be another great step by the Kappos Aministration to improve the patent system. There is no particular reason that the PTO has to be located exclusively in Northern Virginia. Within the next year after the Detroit opening, the PTO is also looking at opening several more satellite offices.