According to news sources, entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are frustrated that plans to establish a satellite U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in San Jose have been shelved, evidently because of the sequestration budget cuts currently imposed on government agencies. Calling the decision to scrap plans for the “promised” office “unique and unfair,” area tech leaders said that the satellite patent offices would not be funded by taxpayers, but would have been supported by the $2.8 billion in annual patent fees collected from inventors, entrepreneurs and companies. “We were really upset,” said Emily Lam, a director at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “It makes absolutely no sense that an office funded almost entirely by fees would be subject to sequester.”
According to USPTO CFO Tony Scardino, the government’s across-theboard policy does not make exceptions for fee-supported programs, and if there is a “continuing budgetary stalemate” this fall, that could cause further delays. Silicon Valley firms reportedly seek more U.S. patents than any other region in the world, and San Jose is the nation’s top patentproducing city, with 7,074 patents in 2012. USPTO currently has a backlog of 590,000 patents nationwide, and satellite offices with patent examiners on site were expected to streamline the application process. Plans for a full satellite office in the area evidently still exist, but for now, Silicon Valley Patent Office Director Michelle Lee, a former Google patent law division head, is working with a few administrative law judges in temporary office space. See AP.org, September 1, 2013; arstechnica.com, September 3, 2013.