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Boston Herald: Hub wants U.S. trademark office

March 28, 2012

By Maria Szaniszlo
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Massachusetts leaders are calling on federal officials to establish a branch office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office here, arguing that it would add jobs and reward the commonwealth for its history of innovation.

“We are one of the major centers of innovation and technology, and we consistently rank No. 1 or No. 2 — second only to California — in the number of patents per capita,” said state Sen. Karen Spilka (D-Ashland).

In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 4,992 patent applications were filed in the Boston area, slightly more than the 4,923 patents granted in all of Massachusetts that year, said Rebecca M. McNeill, a Cambridge patent attorney.

“If I find (the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) wants to create a (satellite) office, I’m going to go after it,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino told the Herald. “This is the right place to be.”

Last fall, Congress passed the America Invents Act to hire more than 1,000 patent examiners and reduce a backlog of 640,000 patent applications by establishing three geographically diverse satellite patent offices by September 2014.

A Detroit branch already is scheduled to open by July, and the office is reviewing public comments about where the other two satellite offices should be opened.

The law requires the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to consider its prospects of recruiting a technically skilled workforce in each location and the economic impact on the region.

In the Boston area, the office would be able to draw from a world-class workforce and cutting-edge research, said Neil Ferraro, president of the Boston Patent Law Association.

“The life sciences community relies on the patent system as it creates new life-saving treatments for patients around the world,” said Robert K. Coughlin, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council. “It makes sense to site a satellite office in the region in which the most innovative activity occurs.”

Jerry Kronenberg contributed to this report.

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