Patent office manufacturing will boost local economy

August 6, 2012
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The announcement and opening of a U.S. Patent office in Detroit — the first “satellite office” to be opened — has been met with celebration across Michigan as one of the few selected sites. Three more new offices will open next month in Dallas, Denver and Silicon Valley. Local intellectual property law attorneys are expressing relief to have that proximity, rather than a long wait to even make appointments in the federal office.

The source of that relief is a nuance in the law that provided for satellites. The federal act included a change that will make it easier for the first to file for a patent to be given the credit, not necessarily the inventor.

The Leahy-Smith America Invents Act — a bipartisan effort — was signed into law last year and is one of the federal government’s initiatives aimed at assisting American entrepreneurs. The Act also provides more online and human resources to the patent application review process, and “track” programs that allow filers to pay a fee to speed patent review to “less than 12 months,” according to the U.S. Patent Office. Small businesses will be favored with a 50 percent discount, and “micro-entities” of fewer than 10 employees pay just 25 percent of the fee.

Perhaps the best news in this part of the state is that the office will host more classifications of patent experts, reportedly including not just automotive expertise but also pharmacy, medical sciences and manufacturing.

The new federal legislation has been seen as necessary, given the repeated citations and pronouncements of researchers and economic gurus proclaiming this as the most innovative era in American history. The track record in nanotechnology is especially apparent. So, too, are da Vinci robots in the surgery suites in area hospitals; even regional dairy herds are milked by robots.

Forbes magazine contributing columnist, tech entrepreneur and researcher Vivek Wadhwa has opined that area has been slow to begin but is about to explode, especially in terms of impacts of artificial intelligence and robotics on manufacturing. He maintains that such advancements mark “the end of Chinese manufacturing” and assist the “rebirth” of U.S. industry.

In this regard, the Business Journal reported in the May 7 issue that the Commercial Alliance of Realtors and related industry professionals have indicated they are nearly out of desired industrial property inventory as clients have claimed those properties. Reporter David Czurak quoted NAI Wisinski’s Stu Kingma, indicating buyers “need something tall, white, bright, nice and clean, and functional. The supply is just no longer there.”

Indications of improvement in the local economy? There’s your sign.

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