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Nation's first-ever satellite patent office opens in Detroit

US Department of Commerce
Acting US Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank cuts the ribbon at the new Detroit patent office.

Detroit is home to the first-ever U.S. Patent and Trademark office outside Washington, DC—and it opened to much fanfare with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

Officials from all levels of government touted the opening of Detroit’s Elijah McCoy satellite patent office as a genuinely big deal.

They say it will make it easier for inventors going through the patenting process and help chip away at a persistent backlog.

They also insist it will fuel innovation and boost the region’s high-tech economy.

Federal officials say they chose Detroit because of its ties to the automotive industry, its large number of engineers and its proximity to universities that produce world-class research.

There was much talk of Michigan’s past as a home to innovators, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and the new office’s namesake, mechanical engineer and inventor Elijah McCoy.

Michigan Senator Carl Levin said that kind of creativity is in Michigan’s DNA

“Michigan is a key part of the perpetual re-birth of America. It comes from our passion for discovery and from our passion for innovation,” Levin said.

Detroit’s is the first of four satellite patent offices the federal government plans to open by 2014.

“With the help of the McCoy office, we’re creating a stronger, more efficient patent system,” said Rebecca Blank, acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce, "and that’s important, because patents are the fuel for invention. Patents protect the intellectual property of Americans who have game-changing ideas.”

Blank swore in some patent examiners and judges after the Friday ceremony. They’re slated to start work on Monday.

Officials say 120 people will work at the McCoy patent office within a year.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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