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Atlanta loses bid to be a regional patent office; but will keep trying

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta leaders are not giving up on the possibility of becoming a regional location for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

But there was widespread disappointment that Atlanta was not among the four cities that already have been designated to become regional patent offices.

Earlier this week, acting U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank and David Kappos, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), announced that the administration planned to open regional patent offices in Dallas, Denver and Silicon Valley. Detroit, selected as the first regional patent office, is scheduled to open July 13.

“The four offices will function as hubs of innovation and creativity, helping protect and foster American innovation in the global marketplace, helping businesses cut through red tape, and creating new economic opportunities in each of the local communities,” the press release from the U.S. Commerce Department stated.

The City of Atlanta had submitted a thorough bid that included support from Gov. Nathan Deal, Metro Atlanta Chamber, Georgia Tech and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed among others.

They believed that if Atlanta had been selected, it would have been a significant boost to the region’s research and development activities as well as a confirmation of the Georgia’s technology sector.

Brian McGowan, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta (formerly the Atlanta Development Authority, called the decision “very disappointing.” Before coming to Atlanta, McGowan was with President Barack Obama’s administration working as a deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and as chief operating officer for the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

McGowan said Georgia had an impressive team “that worked extremely hard to show USPTO that Atlanta was ideally situated” to become a regional patent office.

“We were convinced that with our tech clusters, low cost of living, highly educated workforce and ability to reach 80 percent of the U.S. population within a two hour flight — Atlanta was the right choice,” McGowan said.

But McGowan said that he believed Atlanta would be competitive if other cities were selected to become regional patent offices.

“It’s important to note that all of this is still dependent on appropriations,” McGowan said. “Seeing that they have yet to choose a Southern city, we are well positioned for future rounds.”

One close observer who did not want to be identified said the selection process was not done by a peer review — leading this official to say “it was a political decision as much as anything else.”

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Guset July 5, 2012 10:18 am

    All fine and dandy remarks by Mr. McGowan.  However, with a terrible traffic problem, miserable crime, dilapidating infrastructure, paralyzed political process, and comepltely insufficient public transportation network, it’s no surprise.  Atlanta continues to lose out on opportunity, because Atlanta continues to waste opportunity to fix itself and turn itself into a real city, as opposed to being one big banal suburb.Report

  2. JennGraham July 5, 2012 11:56 am

    Perhaps if we pass the Transportation Referendum on July 31st, we can begin to address the number one reason companies do not move to Atlanta, the traffic and lack of public transportation. VOTE YES on July 31st! We need over 150,000 votes so we can attract companies, offices and creatives to Atlanta.Report


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