PTO Expansion is Good News for Semiconductor Industry

Thursday, Jul 05, 2012, 12:00am

by Semiconductor Industry Association

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) announced this week that it will open new regional offices in Dallas, Denver and Silicon Valley, in addition to the previously announced office in Detroit, which opens on July 13. This is the first time the PTO has expanded operations beyond the Washington, D.C. area. The new regional bureaus, which will be in areas with a strong semiconductor industry presence, are the result of the America Invents Act of 2011 (AIA) — patent reform legislation that was signed into law by President Obama in September 2011.

The PTO’s announcement is exciting news for the U.S. semiconductor industry. According to a recent PTO report, six of the top 15 U.S. corporate patent recipients in 2011 were major semiconductor companies (see graphic below). Currently, however, PTO has a backlog of more than 600,000 pending patent applications, and it takes an average of three years to process an application. For industries like ours that thrive on new ideas, this delay presents a significant challenge.

Fortunately, PTO is working to address the problem. With the addition of new patent offices and the implementation of other provisions from the AIA, PTO estimates that it can cut the patent backlog in half and substantially reduce processing times by 2015. Doing so will help ensure that the U.S. semiconductor industry can continue to advance American technology and develop the breakthroughs to solve society’s most pressing challenges.