Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) announced the site of its Dallas Regional Satellite Office. (See the official press release here.) It is to be located in the Terminal Annex Federal Building on Houston Street, south of the Dealey Plaza, and it will be in the heart of the Dallas’s legal epicenter with George Allen Courthouse as its next-door neighbor.
What does the new Regional Satellite Office mean for Dallas? Recently, I attended the 50th Annual Conference on Intellectual Property Law, where Azam Khan, Deputy Chief of Staff of the USPTO, spoke on the implications of the Regional Office for Texas patent attorneys. First, the most immediately felt result would be new job opportunities as USPTO intends to recruit among the wealth of local talents to be patent examiners and other personnel.
Once the Regional Office is up and running, it will also mean an increased ease and accessibility for patent practitioners in the region to set up examiner interviews either in person (if the examiner is located at the Dallas office) or via video-conferencing. Mr. Khan explained that the USPTO intends to install a direct, high-speed data line between the headquarters in Alexandria, VA, and the Dallas office that will enable secure and reliable video-conferencing. The USPTO is also considering the possibility of applying the same technology—or, better yet, having the Administrative Patent Judges sit in person at the Dallas office—for oral arguments and hearings before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB). This will translate into increased transparency and efficiency in communication between the patent attorney prosecuting the application and the USPTO. My hope is that the USPTO’s aspirations come to fruition, especially as post-grant review (PGR) and inter partes review (IPR) under the America Invents Act go into full force come March 16, 2013. Because both PGR and IPR proceed before the PTAB, and because the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas have been and continue to be a hotbed for patent litigation, it would make a lot of sense for the Administrative Patent Judges to hear PGR and IPR cases related to local litigation cases right here in Dallas. That will translate into decreased cost for clients and increased efficiencies for the administrative and the judicial systems. A win-win for all those involved.
With the arrival of the Dallas Regional Satellite Office, the intellectual property field—both in the legal and the business sectors—is bound to benefit and continue to grow. USPTO might not be from Texas, but it got here as soon as it could. Welcome to Texas, USPTO.
Yon S. Sohn is an intellectual property attorney at Carstens & Cahoon, LLP, who practices in all areas of intellectual property law with a focus on patent law.
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By Yon S. Sohn