Friday, December 17, 2010

Detroit to Get First US Regional Patent Office

For a state that is said to have a problem with lack of college graduates, we still have some wicked smaaart folks running around and inventing stuff and applying for patents. That could be the reason why Detroit received the first US Patent satellite office in the country, which will create 100 jobs and be open by next summer.

The U.S. Patent and Trade Office is to open its first satellite office in Detroit in the summer and will hire 100 patent examiners to help reduce the agency's vast backlog of requests.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke -- whose department includes the Patent Office -- made the announcement Thursday evening, saying Detroit will be the first in what could be a few satellite offices around the country.


Because of research and development done by the auto industry, Michigan has more applicants than most other states, said Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who, along with the state's congressional delegation, lobbied for the office in Detroit.

Detroit beat out more than a dozen cities across the nation to get the office. Site selection is under way, and Commerce Department officials expect to sign a lease as soon as February, with hiring to begin in the spring.

For example, did you know that Michigan is No. 1 in the country for clean energy patents? (Yes, I know that Sen. Stabenow said we were third, but a new study puts us in first) Or that we rank seventh in patents issued in the United States? Although Rick Haglund recently reported that overall Michigan's share of patents has declined in the past three decades, it's "innovate or die" according to CAR's Dave Cole, and we have seen a resurgence in applications in the past decade.

The state saw a 20 percent rise in numbers of patents granted between 2000 and 2006, the most recent data available, compared with the seven-year 1993-99 period, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

The state is among the leaders in intellectual property protection. The 3,758 patents granted to individuals or companies in Michigan in 2006 trailed only Massachusetts, California, New York and Texas. And for the period stretching from 1963 through 2006, Michigan's 123,595 U.S. patents trail only six states: California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

The licensing of intellectual property to competitors is often seen as a major revenue source by automakers and suppliers, many of which have cross-licensing agreements with each other, Halan said.

And that was before the battery technology/renewable energy companies started growing in this state, and those industries will certainly keep us as one of the leaders in the nation in innovation for some time to come.

The Patent Office has a backlog of 710,000 applications and a three-year wait for review, which is unacceptable for anyone trying to recruit investors for a new product or process. New offices will help speed things up and hopefully lead to quicker job creation - glad to see that they are starting right here.