Where should we put the next two patent offices?

The USPTO is seeking input on where to locate two more offices in addition to the DC Metro office (Alexandria, Virginia) and the planned Detroit Office. The chart below shows the distribution of patent attorneys and agents distributed by state. Does this map help us pinpoint the next two spots?: Fayetteville, Arkansas and Boise, Idaho? In this analysis, folks should consider that the new patent offices are likely to be quite small in comparison to the HQ.

Notes:

  • I’m working on a zip code level map and a center-of-gravity calculation.
  • I only looked at Reg No.’s greater than 27,000, which includes the most senior partner at my former firm, MBHB.

69 thoughts on “Where should we put the next two patent offices?

  1. Most patents are worthless anyway. Patents hinder innovation, not encourage it. The IP system is an unnecessary evil and should just be abolished – read Boldrin and Levines’ book: Against Intellectual Monopoly. But patent lawyers love the system because they make a good living from it.

  2. I would say put it in N.ft myers fl. If they are looking for where the worlds top ideas come from. Aperantly they arent when valuable inventions occur they only want to do corrupt file insertions over a few years until your previously new invention looks old. the only way to establish inventorship is in the present with world wide immediate novelty check to prevent this otherwise the economic recovery pipeline remains empty.

  3. Not necessarily, when you can choose a location with a lot of patent work going on that also has a reasonable cost of living. So once again, for this very reason, I pimp Houston.

  4. Dennis:
    Gee thanks for making me, Reg 24067, invisible. If you include me, your results will be skewed W of Seattle on the Olympic Peninsula.
    What cheek to cut off the survey at 27000. Suggest you rethink that.
    Personally, I vote for Kauai.
    xCCPA Law Clerk

  5. There has been a patent library/patent office in Sunnyvale CA since the 1990′s. Maybe they can upgrade it to a full-blown Patent Office

  6. The location of satellite patent offices has nothing to do with where licensed patent attorneys live of a PTO office should be located. But what is important is where can the patent office hire qualified examiners, and pay them salaries that will retain them in an area that is affordable for them to work and live for more than 3 or 4 years. The DC area is expensive and the pay rates and cost of living is a challenge for many, the same for Palo Alto. The PTO should be looking at locations where engineering graduates can be hired and where they can live or want to live at a good standard of living on the examiner pay scales. The focus on where patent attorney’s live, their zip codes and their distribution is entirely misdirected.

  7. Interesting concept, WTN, but wrong vehicle.

    1. Think “cruise ship” for coastal work.. can visit all East Coast and Gulf Coast Ports, pick up a few VI inventors on the way thru Panama to Hawaii, knock off Alaska and the West Coast ports before heading back for the following year’s work.

    2. To keep middle America happy, the third office will be a small vessel cruise that can get up the Mississippi, run the Ohio, and back up through the Great Lakes.

  8. Someone has probably already suggested this but I vote a Final Fantasy style floating airship filled to the gills w/ Examiners.

    Plop it down in a field for a few weeks, conduct round-the-clock interviews and move on.

    Maybe a giant Zeppelin? Kappos could sell ad space on the side-walls and generate more USPTO revenue for Congress to steal!

  9. And anyways when a Patent Office moves to anywhere USA the costs will go up. Just like a COA there goes your price of a Coke. Minimum wage sameo sameo. So don’t be just picking lower income areas for them to be a good fit. Things don’t work that way in this Country and we all know that. And to say that they should go where the most inventors are is a little premature, the average Joe driving by the new USPTO will start to Day Dream and whalaa you will see.

  10. The soon to be EX Commissioner recently indicated that a significant factor in the decision will be “where are the veterans” that can be hired? So, you might want to think Albuquerque, or Denver. Dennis, how about a map of the “vet density” by county or state ?

  11. Adam, is the quota system a artifact of management or the union?

    I once worked in a factory with a daily quota. Exceed that and you got paid for the excess. Thus, if you produced double, you got paid double.

    Fair.

    Why don’t we think about that for a moment?

  12. I think Denver is a good location for the next satellite office. I know many examiners who would consider relocating to Colorado. Plus, Colorado has several good engineering schools to recruit examiners from. Colorado is also a hub for the renewable (and non-renewable) energy, defense, and telecommunications sectors.

    One benefit of having a satellite office is the satellite office could provide a pipeline for examiners that decide to become patent attorneys.

  13. We’re all hurting. What’s your point?

    Why build it? In Las Vegas, you can buy block of office space for less than the cost to build it.

    You would have the govn’t blow a bunch of your children’s money on you? Pork?

  14. Why are we even looking at where patent attorneys currently live? What difference does that make? We’re spread out all over the US and even the world, and business is conducted just fine. As a matter of fact, looking at the map above, most attorneys/agents are on the left coast while DC is on the east coast. And the location of DC was a known quantity when those attorneys made their homes and businesses.

    What makes sense is to look for places that can attract examiners, has good commuincations infrastructure, and has a VERY good transportation system.

  15. Logic is way too much to hope for. But if you look at the politics, Las Vegas looks right. Of course, so does Chicago, but that would be a debacle. Chicago it is!

  16. silicon valley makes ZERO sense. You think people would give up paying positions to work for the PTO even with COLA?

    Do you have ANY idea what it costs to live out there?

    That makes THE LEAST sense of any site proposed save maybe NYC and Chicago.

    It’s okay. I know you’re just hoping to get a site in your back yard, but don’t pretend it’s an objectively good site. It’s easy to tell you’re out there from your “corporate corruption and greed” comment.

  17. actually, nowhere. I suggested that too.

    Between cheap, plentiful housing, driving distances to the left coast sites, and the AMAZING air service (quantity and frequency of direct flights) at McCarren, I really don’t think there are too many places that are comparable.

  18. Actually no.

    I thought things were actually getting a bit better. Of course, I do less software practice now, so maybe that’s it LOL.

  19. It was inefficient and counter-intuitive. The purpose of locating the office is to get the best possible office, not as a charitable donation to the state it gets located in< ?i>”

    You do realize the actual powers involved in making this type of decision, correct? Field of Dreams is not the only dreamer here. Ignoring political reality is every bit a pipedream.

  20. You know how we all know that you’re not an attorney?

    (mostly because you’re touting fraud)

    You should ditch examining patents. It’s clearly bad for your mental health.

  21. You know they have this thing called the internet, right? The attorneys don’t have to move out to Indiana if the satty office gets built there.

  22. Field of Dreams was just a movie. Where is the logic in building an office where you actually have to create a market or have attorneys move there? That’s sort of like the Soviet Union trying to just create a steel/manufacturing industry miles away from all the previous centers of population. It was inefficient and counter-intuitive. The purpose of locating the office is to get the best possible office, not as a charitable donation to the state it gets located in (I know, tell that to Detroit-but at least they have some out-of-work auto engineers there).

  23. Silicon valley seems like a logical choice except for the whole cost of living issue. So, I’ll advocate Houston. Tons of oil industry patent work out there, lots of patent attorneys dealing with that work, very reasonable cost of living rendering an examiner’s salary able to support a pretty nice life.

  24. Thinka politics and donations – perhaps not as nice as striaght logic, but can fit into the logic of the art.

  25. Why can’t you put it in the Center of the USA. Indiana is in a world of hurt. Build it and the Patent Attys. will come. Oh, but that may just be using one’s head.

  26. The data seems to show total patent attorneys by state. So big high population states have an advantage. Since we are dealing with a location question, shouldn’t the “buckets” for data classification all be equal area instead of 50 different areas? A zip code version would be a step in the right direction but zip code areas are not all equal size either.

  27. A fellow oughtn’t let his family go to pieces
    Trollope

    For Gene Quinn
    An Author must be nothing if he do not love the truth; a barrister must be nothing if he do.
    Trollope

    As a happiness in this life it is hardly compatible with that diminishes respect which ever attends the relinquishing of labor.
    Trollope
    Those that pretend to fight for a cause but really are envious of a persons success and hateful are named Mick and Sue.
    Mcpherson

    Now all you small Law Firms and Lawyers know just who to not to pin a Star on. And be thankful he ain’t teaching you.

  28. California and Texas. Not NY City (no industry), not Pa. (too close to DC), not Ohio or Chicago (too close to Detroit). No axe to grind for those places, just trying to think it through logically. OTOH, since the decision, will be made by the government, perhaps logic is too much to hope for?

  29. Wouldn’t that just skew the results?

    Do the new Offices have to have the same widget-quota systems and mentalities? Wouldn’t you just be better by starting over?

  30. A Silicon Valley office makes a lot of sense. There is an extremely high concentration of patent practitioners in a wide array of tech fields in the Bay Area, so the PTO could fill examiner job openings way more easily, especially given the high unemployment rate in CA (currently estimated at about 20% if you consider people who have given up looking for work or are only partially employed). There are a lot of really good IP-focused law schools located in the Bay Area, so, logically, the quality of examiners would improve. We can all agree that the carelessness and poor quality of patent examiners plays a major role in the degradation of our patent system. It may be cheaper for the government to hire bottom-of-the-barrel patent practitioners as examiners, but our society simply cannot afford the long-term cost of a weak patent system. I realize the PTO quota system, corporate corruption and greed, and plenty of other factors also contribute to the decreasing quality of our patent system, but improving examiner quality is an easy and necessary step in the right direction.

    Also, there is a lot to be said for living and working in the heart of the action. The innovative energy in Silicon Valley is contagious, and examiner quality would improve if examiners were more excited about and took more pride in their work.

    Examination efficiency would improve a bit if examiners were in the same time zone as the inventors and practitioners, since workday hours would align and make it easier to schedule examiner interviews. Also, even though in-person meetings are more rare nowadays, it would be cheaper and greener to hold in-person interviews without the need for inventors and practitioners to travel across the country.

  31. •I’m working on a zip code level map and a center-of-gravity calculation,

    I assume the center-of-gravity calculation will take into account the gravitational effects of the existing USPTO location.

  32. Sounds like a good idea except that we have to get to publish ALL OF IT that isn’t examined. We in the publishin’ advances of the Useful Arts business brother, and business is a boomin’ we can’t let that go downhill.

  33. “Anyone else notice how the quality of Examiners has dropped drastically.”

    No. What arts?

    However, if they insist on hiring graduates of US colleges, I would expect the quality to drop.

  34. Center of gravity will put us in about Las Vegas, Nevada, and what could be a more perfect site fora patent office?

  35. They are not practicing any kind of patent related law or they are not practicing patent prosecution?

  36. I recall a news item some years back of a patent attorney living at the Y in silicon valley because he couldn’t afford to live in commuting distance

    That makes no sense because for a long time patent attorneys have been some of the highest paid professionals in the area. A more likely explanation is that this patent attorney was unemployed or simply enjoyed the amenities provided by the YMCA.

  37. A compromise is only examine patent applications that someone (either applicant or third party) agrees important enough to be examined. Third party could be anonymous or disclosed. The PTO wastes too much time and energy examining patent application that never get commercialized.

  38. Wherever these satellite offices are located, the USPTO should make sure that each one is outfitted with a search room with the same search speed and efficiency as the one in Alexandria. Time is money, and the speed of online searching is a joke compared to the speed of searching at the USPTO. Inventors, agents and attorneys should be afforded access to this service in proximity to where they are located.

  39. If we go by the data, we should be put one patent office at one end of University Avenue in Palo Alto and the other one at the other end of University Avenue in Palo Alto.

    Also, anyone else notice how the quality of Examiners has dropped drastically?

  40. Put one in Reno, NV.

    1. Reno Tahoe Airport provides good air service to the West Coast and beyond.

    2. Reno is on Interstate 80.

    3. It is driving distance from San Francisco.

    4. The cost of living is reasonable and Nevada does not have a state income tax.

    5. Reno has excellent broadband Internet.

    6. Reno and surrounding areas are a great place to live.

    7. Atorneys can ski in the many nearby ski resorts and charge it to their clients.

    8. Attorneys can gamble in the casinos and charge it to their clients.

    9. It is next door to Storey County, where prositition is legal (in licensed brothels). Attorneys can charge that to their clients, too. Besides, they get a discount out of professional courtesy.

  41. Why not locate it in a low cost location where Examiner pay will go further, and you can make a good living off of it. If it costs the govn’t and users less (no COL adjustment) and gives examiners more buying power, then it becomes a much more attractive job to qualified applicants. Just a thought.

    Las Vegas?
    St. Louis?
    Indianapolis?

  42. One thing to note is that the satellite offices, iirc, are intended to be focused to a particular industry, and that all of the art units will not be represented there. Thus, it made sense to put an office in Detroit which is a center for a certain industry.

    Another factor to consider is that the cost of living cannot be so great that Exmainers cannot afford to live there. I recall a news item some years back of a patent attorney living at the Y in silicon valley because he couldn’t afford to live in commuting distance.

    I’d say that one of the Offices should go to Phoenix or Las Vegas becasue the cost living is very good, and those locations will be approximately equally (in)convenient to silicon valley and microsoft up in Seattle.

    Another example of an indutry where a satellite office coul dbe centered is the oil indutry down in Houston or thereabouts, but I wouldn’t put my money on the office going to a red state.

    Indiana is a hot bed for the medical and biotech industries, but that’s another red state, so I would lay odds on a med/bio office going into the Chicago area or somewhere in Illinois with a reasonable cost of living.

  43. I believe its too much to hope that the location will be selected on the basis of this or any other factor rationally related to the business of examining patents.

    Were they not both dead, my money would be on the districts represented by Robert Byrd or John Murtha – both legendary from bringing home the pork.

  44. Indeed. And I’m sure there’s also plenty of Federal government-owned buildings with office space so rent won’t be an issue. Maybe an emptied-out post office would suffice.

  45. Maybe somewhere here in the S.F. Bay Area? I hear there is some inventing going on in this region. Nothing like what we see in Detroit, of course, but some activity.

  46. Even better – go for Registration Only System and CLOSE all the Offices.

    Note: will only work if Senators get to keep the difference.

  47. USPTO OED Reports that “At the present time, there are more than 41,750 active registered practitioners.” I know for a fact that a substantial number of those individuals are not actually practicing patent law.

  48. I pick cloudland, where everybody lives in the clouds.

    Might as well, since cloudland is about as likely as Chicago or any other location for that matter.

    As soon as the second office opens, I’ll worry about predicting (lol) the third and fourth office location . . .

  49. This map leads me to ask how many patent attorneys and agents are actively practicing in the United States today?

  50. We’ll have 6,000 plus patent offices, as more Examiner’s work from home. We already have to buy the logic that personal interviews are no more effective than telephone interviews – hence this is why Examiner’s are permitted to (pretty much) never go into the office, and never conduct in-person interviews. Step two in the analysis is once you accept that logic, there’s no reason for any other patent offices.

    QED

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