The Detroit office is expected to include 120 employees during its first year of operations. The PTO’s announcement does not include a timetable for the other offices at this time.
The three announced locations make a lot of sense geographically. San Jose gives the PTO a foothold into Silicon Valley, California where many high tech industries are located. The challenge will be how to hire and retain examiners in this area given the extremely high cost of living and the ready availability of more lucrative employment for highly qualified individuals, especially once they have several years of PTO experience. The challenge will be even greater than at the current PTO location in the Wasington-D.C. metro area.
Dallas provides the PTO with another geographically distinct location in the country’s second most populous state, while also providing proximity to other areas of Texas including Austin and Houston.
Finally, Denver provides a location in the Rocky Mountains. The PTO will now include a location in each time zone. All of the locations are serviced by major airports that will permit travel to the office for attorneys and applications as necessary.
As noted recently by Hal Wegner, the question arises as to the PTO’s new organization when all 5 offices are up and running. Will certain technology areas exist only in certain offices? If so, that makes examiner hiring and retention somewhat more challenging given the specialization. Or, will attorneys and applicants be able to “forum shop” or pick a particular office in which to file and prosecute an application? This could pose the type of problems that the Federal Circuit sought to alleviate in the courts.
The PTO will need to address many of these questions in the coming months as it begins the process of setting up these new offices.