SANTA CLARA, Calif. – As many as 100 new patent examiners and administrative patent law judges will be setting up office in Silicon Valley by 2014, said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), after receiving an award from the IEEE here.
The Silicon Valley office is one of three satellite locations of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office mandated by a broad and controversial patent reform bill passed last summer. The U.S. General Services Administration is now seeking a site close to mass transit for the Silicon Valley office in Santa Clara, San Jose or Sunnyvale, Lofgren said.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed “offered them the 14th floor of San Jose City Hall to help accelerate their move, though not as a permanent location,” said Lofgren.
In an event at the Marvell Semiconductor headquarters here, the IEEE gave Lofgren an award for distinguished public service for her record on issues supporting the electronics industry and engineering profession. After a short ceremony attended by Bay Area academic and industry luminaries, Lofgren spoke on issues of concern to the high tech community such as intellectual property and immigration.
“A lot of my colleagues back in Washington don’t get who we are,” she said, calling out Marvell founder Weili Dai, formerly of Shanghai, who attended the event. “A majority of our companies are founded by Americans who came from somewhere else,” Lofgren said.
“We want to make sure people who want to start companies here don’t wind up going someplace else,” Lofgren said, adding that current H1-B visa and other immigration laws need to be reformed.
Separately, Lofgren said she didn’t vote for the 2011 patent reform bill because she didn’t like compromises in the final package “that didn’t solve the problem of patent trolls.” But she did work to lobby for a satellite patent office in Silicon Valley and applauded the part of the bill enabling it.
She noted the patent office has a backlog of 620,000 pending patents, and as many as 500,000 new patents are filed every year. With a local branch of the patent office “products can be brought from the drawing board to the marketplace faster and easier, creating a more direct path to economic growth and the job creation,” she said.
The news comes as the city has been in the spotlight for the Apple vs. Samsung patent infringement case here. A jury led by a 67-year-old San Jose electrical engineer awarded Apple a landmark $1.05 billion in damages in the case that focused in part on relatively new areas of design patents and trade dresses.
IEEE Silicon Valley representative Brian Berg (left) and Marvell co-founder Weili Dai present IEEE award to Silicon Valley congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.Photo: Jeffrey Pawlan