SAN JOSE -- After a four-year push, the futuristic City Hall of the self-proclaimed Capital of Silicon Valley will be the home of the region's first permanent patent and trademark office -- a long-sought goal of politicians and executives from the nation's top hub of innovation.

Tuesday's announcement that Silicon Valley's new Satellite Patent and Trademark Office will open in late 2014 was welcomed by supporters who had seen their dream delayed during the summer when federal budget cuts threatened to eliminate funding for the new office.

San Jose City Hall, at 200 East Santa Clara St., is seen on Feb. 15, 2011.
San Jose City Hall, at 200 East Santa Clara St., is seen on Feb. 15, 2011. ((Gary Reyes /Mercury News))

Federal patent and trademark officials Tuesday emphasized the importance of Silicon Valley's entrepreneurship and innovation to the overall U.S. economy, while highlighting the need to speed up the patent process and reduce a backlog of cases for companies around the West Coast and Pacific Rim. One out of eight registered patents is born in Silicon Valley, the nation's top patent incubator.

"We imagine a lot of demand," said Michelle Lee, director of Silicon Valley's satellite office.

Young startups also will be able to avoid the cost and hassle of traveling to Alexandria, Va., to argue in person for their patents, Lee said. Since April, she and nine patent trial and appeal board judges have been working out of a temporary site in Menlo Park.


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"This is phenomenal news," said Carl Guardino, president and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which has been working with Silicon Valley business leaders, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and the Bay Area's congressional delegation to get the office opened.

The new office will be located in 40,000 square feet of space in City Hall that will be renovated to accommodate heavy Internet use and to create hearing and interview rooms and other spaces, Lee said. Between now and the opening of the office late next year, Lee hopes to see 60 new patent examiners and a total of 20 hearing judges hired for the City Hall office.

"That space is in wonderful condition to start," Lee said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday. But she said the work to upgrade the space is "much like a home renovation."

The announcement was celebrated from Silicon Valley to Washington, D.C.

"It's a great day for our nation that, after 236 years, they get it that the government should actually come to the customers (rather) than always dragging the customer across the country to meet with government," Guardino said.

Karineh Khachatourian, a patent and trademark attorney who runs the Silicon Valley office of Duane Morris, called the new patent office "a very good thing. This is the center of technology and it will make it a lot easier for Silicon Valley companies to patent and trademark their intellectual property. It's long overdue."

U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, said in a statement that the new office will help promising startups go from the "drawing board to the marketplace faster and in the process, grow their ventures and create good-paying jobs."

San Jose officials are providing the City Hall space for free for the first two years, followed by three years of reduced rent. After that, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will pay market rates to the city.

The office of Assembly Speaker John Perez also has provided the patent office with $500,000 in funding. Lee said some of the money will be used for education and outreach to entrepreneurs and innovators "to meet their needs and, frankly, help the USPTO do its job better."

In September 2011, President Barack Obama signed into law the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act that called for the patent office to establish three or more satellite offices. The agency opened its first permanent office in Detroit in July 2012 and has identified permanent locations for the remaining satellite offices at the Terminal Annex Federal Building in Dallas and at the Byron G. Rogers Federal Office Building in Denver.

Staff writer Mark Gomez contributed to this report. Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.