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Published: Sunday, 2/26/2012

Ohio lawmakers tout state for patent office

4 in Congress note work force, research sites

ASSOCIATED PRESS

COLUMBUS -- Members of Ohio's congressional delegation have urged leaders of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to consider Columbus as a potential site for one of its new satellite offices.

The bipartisan group touted Ohio's work force, research facilities, and connections to global companies, noting that the state was the birthplace of inventor Thomas Edison and aviation legends the Wright brothers.

"Ohio offers the advantages of a large state -- world class universities, brilliant labor pool, and innovators -- coupled with Midwestern value and work ethic," said the letter from Sens. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, and Rob Portman, a Republican, and Reps. Steve Stivers and Patrick Tiberi, both Republicans.

They cited examples of innovators from various pockets of the state, including the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Cincinnati-based Procter and Gamble, and the U.S. Air Force laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton.

But other factors might inhibit the state's chance of getting such an office, including the number of patent applications from Ohio and its proximity to the satellite site planned in Detroit.

"Geographic diversity" is among the factors to be considered in choosing the satellite sites.

Ohio residents received 3,837 patents in 2010 and an estimated 3,850 last year, ranking the state well behind the leading patent-receiving states, according to the patent office.

California had nearly 30,400 patents issued last year, or about a quarter of the total of roughly 120,000. New York and Texas followed with about 8,000 each.

Also to be considered are regional economic impact and the availability of workers with scientific and technological knowledge who might become patent examiners.

The America Invents Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last fall requires patent officials to create at least three more U.S. offices within three years.

It's an effort to improve interactions with patent applicants, boost the recruitment and hiring of patent examiners, and reduce the number of patent applications waiting to be examined. The approval process can take three years because of a backlog of hundreds of thousands of applications.

Ohio officials aren't ready to count the Buckeye State out of the running.

Columbus2020, a regional economic development organization, has spearheaded the local push for a patent office.

"Doing this is right up our alley," said Matt McQuade, business development director. "We're the ones who are trying to create jobs."

The America Invents Act is the first overhaul of the U.S. patent system since 1952.

It ensures that the patent office has funding to expedite the application process and switches the United States from the "first-to-invent" system to the "first-inventor-to-file" system for patent applications.



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