Patent office opens opportunities statewide

Once the new Office of Patents and Trademarks in Denver is fully staffed, other parts of the state could benefit in a way that wasn’t forecast.

Employees might live in communities around the state, and not be concentrated in a single downtown Denver office building, a staffer for U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., told a Club 20 committee Wednesday.

As many as 400 employees are expected to work out of the Denver office once it reaches full employment, a process that could take about two years, Monisha L. Merchant, Bennet’s senior adviser for business affairs, said during Club 20’s winter meetings.

Once they are trained and have settled into the operations of the patent office, employees will be allowed to, and in some cases, encouraged, to work from remote locations, Merchant told the business affairs committee.

“The expectations are really high for them (trademark office employees) to be out in the community,” Merchant said.

Access to computerized records made it possible to establish satellite patent and trademark offices in Denver, Detroit, northern California and Dallas, Merchant said, noting that the office itself has a strong reason to encourage its employees to “telework” outside a central location, such as the headquarters of the agency in Alexandria, Va.

Once employees are trained and understand the workings of the system, they become immediately marketable to private industry, which offers significantly larger paychecks than those offered by the government, which are in the $50,000 to $85,000 range, Merchant said.

The hope is that greater flexibility will increase employee retention and allow the agency to begin eating into a backlog of some 600,000 patent applications, Merchant said.

As it is now, applicants for patents have waits of three to five years to obtain patents that give them exclusive rights for as many as 15 years, depending on the nature of the invention.

The patent office is now seeking applicants for the Denver location and is looking for people with four-year degrees in the sciences or engineering field, Merchant said.

The Denver office is expected to open this summer, to be followed by the offices near the Silicon Valley and in Dallas.


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