The PTO today announced plans to open the long-awaited Detroit satellite office by July.
Detroit was announced as the site of the satellite office in December 2010. By April, Congress had conspired to appropriate PTO funds causing the agency to postpone the opening of the office indefinitely. The America Invents Act permits the PTO to open 3 satellite offices within the next 3 years. With the resources now available, the PTO is moving forward with plans for Detroit.
Given the state of the economy in Michigan, Detroit is a good choice for the first satellite office. The unemployment rate in Michigan dropped below 10% in November for the first time in 3 years. There is a large number of unemployed engineers and scientists in the area, a world-renowned research university (my alma mater!), and not a large legal market. In Washington, DC, patent examiners who spend some time at the PTO can command large salaries at area law firms. That won’t be a problem in Detroit.
It is also a good move for President Obama politically. While Michigan has been solidly Democratic for the last few elections, the state did elect a Republican governor in 2010. The Republican presidential nominee may end up being someone who was born in Michigan and whose father served as the state’s governor. The choice of Detroit can’t hurt his chances in the state.
In November, the PTO requested comments on locations for other satellite offices that it plans to open in the coming years, assuming the funds are available. Comments must be provided by January 30.