Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Public Comment: Hawaii as Potential Location for USPTO Satellite Office

To: Deputy Chief of Staff
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
January 4, 2012



This submission is provided as public comment in response to the USPTO’s proposal for potential additional locations for USPTO satellite offices, as noticed in Federal Register Notice 11-69 on November 29, 2011.

In May 2007, Director Dudas, Commissioner Doll, other USPTO officials, and senior officials of the other major patent offices (Europe, Japan, China, Korea and Australia) attended a multilateral patent office coordination conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the host invitation of then Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. While there, the USPTO contingent met with Hawaii officials, members of the patent bar, and industry executives for a presentation of the suitability of Honolulu for a regional patent examining office to meet an important goal of the USPTO 2007-2012 Strategic Plan. An electronic copy of the 2007 presentation to USPTO is attached. Among the important advantages noted for locating such an office in Hawaii were these:


1. Hawaii has a large (~1600 per year), ethnically diverse pool of US-citizen science and engineering graduates and expat graduates residing in the US Mainland seeking high-level technical employment in Hawaii. Hawaii has a diverse mix of family-oriented social cultures where parents typically prefer that their children find employment and stay in Hawaii, and graduates forced to seek employment outside of Hawaii often want to return.


2. Hawaii’s local pay scale for Sci&Engg graduates is about 30% lower than the USPTO pay scale for patent examiners, making patent examiner employment highly attractive and likely to have a strong retention rate for Hawaii examiners relative to local technology jobs (if they existed).


3. Hawaii has centers of technical excellence in biotech, agricultural tech, ocean and earth sciences, telemetry, communications, dual-use defense technologies, astronomy and renewable energy.


4. Hawaii is a preferred host venue for Asia-Pacific conferences on international patent and IP policies, often held at its unique East-West Center for International Studies, making Hawaii an ideal location for a far-West presence of the USPTO.


The USPTO’s key criteria for locating a satellite office are deemed to be met as follows:


(1) A Hawaii USPTO office location would provide a key asset for technology clustering (along with per-capita high levels of university and institutional research and strong U.S. Defense research presence) that would promote increased outreach activities to better connect local entrepreneurs and innovation companies with the USPTO


(2) A Hawaii USPTO office would have strong relative advantages in pay scale incentives and patent examiner retention and provide an unmatched quality of life.


(3) A Hawaii USPTO office would provide a large annual pool of qualified Sci&Engg candidates for recruitment of patent examiners.


(4) A Hawaii USPTO office would stimulate and likely increase the filing of patent applications from Hawaii inventors.


(5) Hawaii has strong technology competencies and assets in biotech, agricultural tech, ocean and earth sciences, telemetry, communications, dual-use defense technologies, astronomy and renewable energy that would improve quality of patent examination by examiners hired in Hawaii in these fields.


(6) Hawaii currently has rentable office space at about 78% of capacity and at rent scales comparable to Arlington, Virginia.


(7) The University of Hawaii system has about 44,000 matriculants annually, $270 million per year in research funding, and strong technology competencies and assets in biotech, agricultural tech, ocean and earth sciences, telemetry, communications, dual-use defense technologies, astronomy and renewable energy.


(8) Hawaii is home to a regional high-level biosafety laboratory, UH Cancer Research Center, Natural Energy Laboratory of Hawaii Authority (ocean water and renewable energy research), U.S. Defense space surveillance and supercomputing center, and Mauna Kea world astronomical observatories.


(9) A Hawaii USPTO office will likely stimulate technology entrepreneurs and innovation companies and have positive economic impacts in Hawaii, the Pacific island nations, and the Asia-Pacific region.


In summary, we believe that Hawaii would be an ideal location for a USPTO satellite office.  Thank you for consideration of this mutually advantageous opportunity.




Yours truly,
Leighton K. Chong

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