John Gallagher|Detroit Free Press

The new U.S. Patent and Trademark satellite office opening in Detroit this week will cut red tape and help spur innovation in local industry, a panel of business and legal experts said today.

Speaking at Stroh River Place on Detroit’s east riverfront, the home of the new satellite patent office, the panel held in honor of this week’s opening predicted local engineers and inventors would benefit from face-to-face contact with patent examiners.

“It’s going to be effective in reducing backlogs,” said David LaPrairie, a partner in the law firm Howard & Howard.

Panelists also suggested the office would help spur the process of innovation here, helping businesses cut through red tape and shortening the time between idea and final product.

“We have a real chance to change the game here in Detroit,” said William Coughlin, president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies.

The opening of the Detroit office marks the first time in its history that the U.S. Patent Office has opened a satellite office outside of the Washington, D.C. area. Earlier this month, Acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos announced plans to open other regional patent offices in or near Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and in Silicon Valley, California.

The office at Stroh River Place officially opens on Friday. Azam Kahn, deputy chief of staff of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, said the center has been hiring staff on the way to employing about 100 patent examiners plus support staff.

Services available at the office for inventors will include terminals to search for similar or overlapping patents and technology, one-on-one meetings with examiners, and video-conferencing with patent office staffers near Washington, D.C.

Contact John Gallagher: 313-222-5173 or

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