Letter to David Kappos, Under Secretary for Intellectual Property

Press Release

By:  Ben Lujan, Jr. Tom Udall Jeff Bingaman Martin Heinrich
Date: Oct. 4, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall and Congressmen Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján are urging the Obama administration to open a regional Patent and Trademark Office in central New Mexico. Such a move could bring with it as many as 100 highly-skilled professional jobs.

Last month, President Obama signed a bill into law that streamlines the process for granting patents. As part of that law, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is required to open at least two regional offices to help address the backlog of 680,000 pending patents.

The Senators and Representatives sent a letter today to the Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office pointing to the many reasons central New Mexico is an ideal location for a regional office.

For example, they point out the area possesses a highly-educated workforce, including a high density of patent attorneys and employees with science and engineering Ph.D.'s. They also cite central New Mexico's inexpensive office space and low cost-of-living, which would make the region an economical choice.

To bolster New Mexico's chances for selection, Luján successfully inserted into the new patent law a provision requiring the Patent and Trademark Office to open satellite offices in areas where they would have a high economic impact and where scientific and technically knowledgeable personnel are available.

The only other regional Patent and Trademark Office opened earlier this year in Detroit, Michigan. That office will hire about 100 engineers and patent lawyers.

The text of the letter follows:

October 4, 2011

Mr. David Kappos
Under Secretary for Intellectual Property
Director for the United States Patent and Trademark Office
Department of Commerce
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

Dear Under Secretary Kappos:

We are writing to urge the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to select the central New Mexico region as the location of the next Regional Patent Office.

This region, centered around Albuquerque, possesses a highly-educated workforce in the backgrounds pertinent for successful patent development and processing, which makes the area a strong choice for a Regional Patent Office. According to the Department of Labor and Statistics, this region's workforce demographics demonstrate a high density of patent attorneys and employees with science and engineering Ph.D.'s. More specifically, as compared to Detroit, the city most recently selected for a Regional Patent Office, central New Mexico's workforce has a higher density of employed science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) subject Ph.D.'s and over double the number of licensed patent attorneys. Furthermore, the region's inexpensive office space and low cost-of-living provides an affordable choice for the USPTO while also providing a comfortable living environment for employees.

Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Air Force Research Lab, along with New Mexico Tech, New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico, generate a vibrant local R&D ecosystem that is unique in the southwest. Not only would this ecosystem provide a stimulating environment for a Regional Patent Office, it would also provide a resource of technical professionals from which to draw in hiring new patent examiners. The important relationship between patents and our national labs is demonstrated by a new initiative from the Department of Energy which willreduce barriers for start-up companies to obtain "option agreements" to license some of the 15,000 patents and patent applications held by the national labs.

All of these features of the central New Mexico region would contribute toward attaining the goals of the satellite offices, which include:

(1) increasing outreach activities to better connect patent filers and innovators with the Office;

(2) enhancing patent examiner retention;

(3) improving recruitment of patent examiners.

Furthermore, this region would more than satisfy the criteria required for choosing a location of a Regional Patent Office, namely:

(a) the availability of scientific and technically knowledgeable personnel in the region from which to draw new patent examiners at minimal recruitment cost; and

(b) the economic impact to the region.

With so many federal labs and research universities in the area, there is a wealth of technically knowledgeable personnel in central New Mexico. In addition, because of New Mexico's tough economic challenges, a Regional Patent Office in central New Mexico would have a much larger positive economic impact in this region than almost any other region that would offer a similar abundance of technical personnel.

We urge you to carefully consider the central New Mexico region for the location of the next Regional Patent Office.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bingaman Tom Udall
United States Senator United States Senator

Ben Ray Luján Martin Heinrich
United States Congressman United States Congressman