I recently joined SPUR Silicon Valley on a tour through the new U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) located at San Jose City Hall. It was a great opportunity to see how this community asset has strengthened the startup ecosystem during its first year of operation. You can read more about the history of the office from USPTO Director John Cabeca here. But, if you haven’t had the chance to visit yet, consider this a virtual tour!

First stop is the main lobby, which can host events up to 170 people or be divided into smaller areas to serve as a training facility. Recent events have ranged from “Speed Dating for Startups” to naturalization ceremonies.

The facility serves seven states in the western region and
reaches 500,000 people annually. The list of companies founded in the region is
a veritable who’s who.

The “hyperwall” is a good place to find information on
upcoming events such as “Trademark Tuesday” — a video conference with trademark
experts who are located at the USPTO home office in Alexandria.

Public workstations provide access to international
databases for patent searches and are accessible from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.,
Monday through Friday. The information provided via these databases is not
available online, although select libraries have pieces of it. The databases
were created for, and are used by, examiners so that results can be perused
more easily than from other sources.

Many of the patent examiners work off-site and are dispersed
throughout the United States. The Silicon Valley office has workstations for
visiting examiners and has created common areas for them to collaborate and
share information. At the heart of one such space is “The Shoe” — a unique
cabinet modeled on the way that patents were initially stored — in shoe boxes!

The last stop is an on-site hearing room that allows entrepreneurs and their attorneys to present their cases locally instead of having to travel to the East Coast. There are three judges present for each hearing, although some may connect through video. Hearings are open to the public and the docket can be found on the main website.

In the last year, the Silicon Valley office has hired 80 patent examiners and 27 appeal board judges.

Want to take a tour? The next public tour takes place on
January 6!