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Patent, trademark office a ‘screaming big deal’ for Dallas

Posted on November 6, 2015

Patent, trademark office a ‘screaming big deal’ for Dallas

Nov 6, 2015

Bill Hethcock

Staff Writer- Dallas Business Journal

The opening of a U.S. Patent and Trademark office in Dallaswill serve as a springboard for innovation, inspiration and high-paying jobs in North Texas, and give the region another arrow in the quiver of ideas, intellectual property lawyers and other supporters of the project say.

“We live in an information age, and intellectual property — property which is not tangible, ideas of the mind, copyright, trademarks, protection of music — are becoming all the more important,” Dallas patent lawyer Thom Tarnay said. “We have a thriving industrial base here in technology. This will provide a talent pool of people who are sophisticated in promoting and protecting intellectual property rights.”

Bill Munck, whose Munck Wilson Mandala law firm has one of the busiest patent prosecution departments in North Texas, said DFW has more than 200,000 people who have “serious technical backgrounds” in semiconductors, telecommunications, automotive and military technology and app development.

“Dallas-Fort Worth is known for that,” Munck said. “The federal government basically came in and looked at all these different locations and stamped Dallas as a technology mecca, and in doing that, they chose us over Austin and Houston. That’s a screaming big deal for Dallas.”

The patent and trademark office will be a global advantage for DFW in attracting corporate relocations, Munck said. “It could be that last straw that pushes that company to leave California or New York,” he said.

Having an office in the region will make it easier and less expensive for DFW inventors and patent attorneys to conduct in-person interviews with patent examiners, said Tarnay, who leads the intellectual property group for the Dallas office of Sidley Austin.

The office, which opens at the Terminal Annex Federal Building in Dallas on Nov. 9, will house patent examiners and patent trial and appeal board judges.

“We have a long history of telecom, electronics and semiconductor work, and this is one more aspect of our confidence in technology in the Dallas-Fort Worth area,” Tarnay said. “It helps to bring a more well-rounded aspect to technology here, to the companies and the employees and the engineers. It gives the inventors locally and the companies locally greater access to the patent office. Previously everything was in Washington D.C.”

Patent examiners are typically scientists and engineers, so the patent office will open opportunities to graduates of local universities in those fields, Tarnay said. Two young associates formerly with Sidley recently left the firm for jobs as administrative law judges at the patent office in Dallas, he added.

The office will attract a talent pool of professionals who will work in the patent office, then move after a few years into industry and provide companies and law firms with people who’ve seen the other side of the picture, Tarnay said.

Tarnay said he believes the roughly 100 examiners that the office will house initially will grow substantially. He said the already thriving tech community in North Texas, the area universities and the strong economy likely led to Dallas’ selection for one of the four satellite patent offices.