Opening New Patent Offices Won’t Fix America’s Broken System

In my inbox comes a press release from the Commerce Department about the latest initiative to fix America’s broken patent system:

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 (USPTO) David Kappos today announced plans to open regional USPTO offices in or around Dallas, Texas, Denver, Colorado, and Silicon Valley, California. These offices are in addition to the already-announced first USPTO satellite office to open on July 13 in Detroit, Michigan. 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. Next week, Acting Secretary Blank and Under Secretary Kappos will travel to each of the newly selected cities to meet with local businesses, entrepreneurs and public officials to discuss the new office openings.

It’s hardly the fault of the career staff (as opposed to, say, judges and Congress), but this is incredibly lame. The presumption here is that the problem with the patent system in the United States is that we’re somehow not efficient enough at transforming patent applications into patents. The actual problem is that the underlying presupposition that it helps the economy to engage in profligate granting of government-enforced monopolies.