Colorado has mile-high hopes for satellite U.S. Patent Office

By: Steve Thursday May 31, 2012 0 comments Tags: U.S. Patent Office

Announcement expected this summer for two new office locations

By Steve Porter

It's projected that Colorado could add nearly 600 jobs and more than $400 million in related economic activity over the next five years if the federal government chooses the Denver metro area as the location of a new satellite U.S. Patent Office.

The economic analysis by the University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business is a major reason why city, state and economic development officials are lobbying hard for a Denver metro site.

Eric Berglund
"It's a huge opportunity from the perspective that (Colorado) companies wouldn't have to go to the coasts to get their proposals reviewed," said Eric Berglund, interim president of Upstate Colorado, the economic development organization in Weld County. "And it would be a great economic boost for Colorado. To have that resource locally would be tremendous."

In January, the Colorado Legislature unanimously approved Senate Joint Resolution 8, which calls on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to choose Colorado for the site of one of two new satellite patent offices.

The resolution, hand delivered in Washington, D.C. by Colorado business leaders in late January, calls Colorado "an ideal location" for a satellite office and noted the state's highly-educated workforce, major research universities, its growing reputation as a center of innovation and the state's desirable quality of life as points to consider.

Colorado patent attorneys, inventors and others have been trying for years to get the patent office to choose Denver for a satellite office, where patent applications by regional inventors and entrepreneurs could more easily be navigated through the patent system.

Last year, Congress approved the "America Invents Act" to help streamline the patent process, which has grown unwieldy and slow, stifling innovative ideas and the jobs they could produce. The agency currently has a backlog of nearly 660,000 patent applications, and through an amendment to the act sponsored by Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, the addition of at least three satellite offices across the nation was approved.

Detroit has already been selected as the first of the three locations, with an announcement of the other two sites expected by mid-summer.

Both Udall and Bennet have strongly promoted Colorado as the choice of one of those sites. "A satellite patent office in Denver would put to use our skilled workforce and create immediate jobs that ripple out into our communities," Udall said in a statement. "It would also put our state on the map as a hub for entrepreneurs and attract the startup companies and quality researchers who further spur job growth in our state."

During a tour of Denver and Boulder last November, new Secretary of Commerce John Bryson said he saw a powerful sense of innovation and said the area would be a "very strong candidate" for a new satellite patent office.

Upstate's Berglund said a local patent office would attract more entrepreneurs with patentable ideas which, in turn, would attract venture capital firms to the state. Berglund said Colorado's patent office application set itself apart because "we were the only one to offer an economic impact statement."

But Colorado is facing some stiff competition from other states like California, which has been the No. 1 state for issued patents for the last 10 years, including 2010 when 30,080 patents were issued. That compares to 2,436 in Colorado, which finished No. 14 that year.

Top 20 states for issued patents

Colorado's patent activity has been strong over the 2000-2010 time period, according to figures from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

In 2010 -- the most recent year for figures -- Colorado ranked No. 14 for patents issued:

  1. California - 30,080

  2. New York - 8,095

  3. Texas - 8,027

  4. Washington - 5,810

  5. Massachusetts - 5,261

  6. Illinois - 4,374

  7. New Jersey - 4,345

  8. Michigan - 4,277

  9. Minnesota - 4,005

  10. Ohio - 3,983

  11. Pennsylvania - 3,889

  12. Florida - 3,724

  13. North Carolina - 2,922

  14. Colorado - 2,436

  15. Oregon - 2,340

  16. Wisconsin - 2,232

  17. Georgia - 2,194

  18. Arizona - 2,169

  19. Connecticut - 2,111

  20. Maryland - 1,732

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