Opening of the Rocky Mountain Patent Office Raises Denver’s Profile as Center of Innovation

John Posthumus has been instrumental making the Denver Office of the USPTO a reality – having spent more than 1,000 pro bono hours on this effort. I asked him to write a guest post to commemorate the June 30 opening. D.C.

By John Posthumus

The opening of the Rocky Mountain Regional Satellite office in Denver on June 30 marks an unprecedented and historic moment for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Never in its history has the USPTO had a base of operations that extended beyond the Eastern Time zone. The USPTO has operated exclusively for more than 200 years in the Washington, D.C. area until July 2012, when the USPTO opened its first satellite office in Detroit.

While the Detroit office was a small step geographically speaking (Detroit is 525 miles from Washington, D.C.), the Denver office is a huge step toward a national presence by the USPTO. Its central U.S. location will provide unprecedented access to inventors and entrepreneurs in the western part of the country, satisfying an important Section 23 objective of the America Invents Act (AIA) – better connecting patent filers and innovators with the patent office. The Denver office is expected to have state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities available to applicants. Thus, a significant part of the U.S., and the entire Rocky Mountain region, will be able to travel to Denver to complete examiner interviews and return home the same day.

The opening of the Denver office will also enable the USPTO to recruit examiners and board judges from pools of talented individuals they cannot access in Alexandria, VA. Colorado, for example, is the second-most highly educated state in the nation, is among the top 10 for adults with degrees in science and engineering, has four major research universities, and is home to 24 federally funded research laboratories. The opening of the Denver office provides a great opportunity to recruit candidates that have recent and relevant technical and industry experience that they will bring to the examining and board judging roles. As a result, the Denver office is expected to provide better quality examinations and decrease the number of patent applications waiting for examination, and satisfy another criteria in Section 23.

The new office is also expected to improve recruitment of patent examiners, another Section 23 factor, because of Colorado’s favorable cost of living and quality of life factors. As Acting Director Michelle Lee stated recently, “In addition to creating jobs for intellectual property professionals throughout the region, the permanent Denver satellite office will be an indispensable resource for regional inventors, entrepreneurs and businesses.” The benefits of the new USPTO satellite office will extend beyond creating jobs. The opening of the office will also have a positive economic impact in the region. According to a study by the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business, the Denver-based office is expected to provide a $440 million economic impact to the region in the first five years of operation.

The Denver office also gives the USPTO an opportunity to think outside the box and presents an historic opportunity to set aside the baggage that comes from operating in one location for over 200 years. For example, the Denver satellite patent office could be used to run small-scale pilot projects in conjunction with local public/private partners, such as a one-month filing to issuance pilot or a collaborative examination by two examiners, that if successful could be scaled ultimately changing how the USPTO operates. In this regard, perhaps the most exciting prospects of the satellite offices are yet to come.

24 thoughts on “Opening of the Rocky Mountain Patent Office Raises Denver’s Profile as Center of Innovation

    1. 3.1

      The lessen here 6 is far less “China-phobe” and far more geared to the natural evolution of pirate-nation when a have-not and strong IP when becoming a have.

      Bottom line: strong IP works to make a strong nation.

      I have dispatched many a naysayer to go find even one example of a strong modern nation that has eliminated its IP protection laws.

      Guess how many responses I have received?

      That’s right: zero.

      The offer is still on the table for any anti-patentist.

      1. 3.1.1

        find even one example of a strong modern nation that has eliminated its IP protection laws.

        I’m not aware of any serious proposal to “eliminate IP protection” in the United States.

        Are you?


            No doubt, as he makes it appear that only complete elimination is the “bad” that has been under discussion when it has been abundantly clear that it is even the lessening of IP protection that the comment pertains to.

            But since Malcolm is anti-patent at the core, did you expect anything else?


              Well, not only that, but the EPO patentability standard is being pushed on us in the US, and yet we are wiping Europe with our software industry.

              It is just like Alice. Facts don’t matter. Psychotic disconnected cognition is what we are facing.

  1. 2

    Moving the UKPTO from London to Newport in Wales brought benefits for users. Switching EPO opposition work to The Hague in The Netherlands brought benefits to users. I imagine then that there is every reason to think that the Branch in Denver will bring even more benefits to users of the USPTO Best wishes to you!

    Interesting too, that Denver aims to Trial EPO-style Examining Divisions. Take it from me: they work!

    1. 2.1

      Examining divisions, summons to oral proceedings, and auxiliary requests would all be welcome additions to U.S. prosecution practice, but as they would effectively end the game playing and shenanigans used by the examining corps and the management of the PTO, they will never be adopted.

  2. 1

    As a result, the Denver office is expected to provide better quality examinations…

    Interesting, is this official policy that the Denver office will provide better examinations? How does a filer choose the Denver office if they want a better examination? Also, will there be a procedure to move pending examinations as well (filers should be allowed the right to remove applications from the Washington office that office provides inferior examination by policy).

    1. 1.1

      You are right, choice, it’s clearly a bad idea for the head of the Denver office to take measures that will result in superior examination in Denver. He should be stopped, immediately!

      1. 1.1.1

        I don’t think “stopping immediately” was what choice had in mind, captain obvious.

    2. 1.2

      One question: Aren’t patent examiners allowed to work virtually anywhere?

      I think I’ve spoken to some living in CA while the USPTO only had the DC office.

      If so, doesn’t this reduce the benefits of having such satellite offices if none of the examiners are “home”?

      However, I agree having easier access to board of appeals would be beneficial (e.g., for oral hearings).

      1. 1.2.1

        That’s not the only seeming contradiction…

        Better “state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities available to applicants” immediately lessens the very next statement of “will be able to travel to Denver to complete examiner interviews and return home the same day” – if you have better teleconferencing capabilities, the need to visit the complex in person drops.

      2. 1.2.2

        Does make you wonder if the PTO has really thought out how to modernize and use new technology.


          lol modernize? Use “new” technology?

          You’ve got to be kidding me. About the only new technology we’re using around these parts is the occasional vid conf/IMs. We’ll get the new examination end 2 end soon which will be long awaited and much needed. But that’s a never ending “soon” it seems like.

          To be sure, most of our IT infrastructure was being held together with duct tape and bubble gum (or so the rumor went) and had the capacity of a good/decent 1980-90’s network. Why else do you think they’d be up in arms about people watching more than 1 youtube vid (even for examinations of applications with “art” on youtube) in a month?


          PTO has really thought out how to modernize and use new technology.

          Updating PTO technology would cost quite a bit of money but it would be a much better use of money than, say, killing a bunch of people in Iraq.


              His irony meter is broken and he does not get the fact that in trying to be ironic, he has embraced his own fallacies unknowingly.

              He shows himself to be the dunce, and I bet that he is oblivious as to why.

              Just another Malcolm self-FAIL.

      3. 1.2.3

        “One question: Aren’t patent examiners allowed to work virtually anywhere?”

        Once you’re gs12

      4. 1.2.4

        This was mandated by congress as a way to bring pork barrel spending and jobs to different areas. The satellite offices were conceived of long before the hoteling program was put into place. Now there are examiners teleworking from all over the country, and the statellite offices are completely inefficient/pointless wastes of money. These offices all have to have extra support staff, local SPEs (in addition to their home SPEs, etc.) and are much more expensive to run per examiner than it would otherwise have been.

        Since your applications and appeals will not be sent to examiners/board members according to their geographic location, there is no benefits to applicants, and in fact the satellite office can be a detriment if you wanted to do multiple in person interviews in a single day because one examiner may be in denver, and another in alexandria, or the junior examiner will be in denver but the person signing his/her cases in alexandria.

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