The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is considering the Denver area for a regional office but is still in the preliminary stages of the process.
Jon Dudas, office director and undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property, said Monday it would make sense for the Virginia- based operation to look west, and Denver is appealing because of its quality of life, abundance of engineers and competitive pay.
"We pay over six figures for most engineers in D.C.," Dudas said in an interview at the Aspen Summit, where he spoke on a panel about protecting intellectual property around the world.
But a decision on the regional office "is probably not going to happen for a while," he added. Dudas also said it is too early to say how many people a regional office might employ.
Dudas, who took the helm of the patent office in January 2004, noted his office is hiring about 1,000 patent examiners a year, and that trend isn’t likely to abate anytime soon.
He said patent officials flew to Colorado a couple of months ago to meet with a delegation that made its case that a regional office should be located in the Denver area. He indicated Gov. Bill Owens made a personal pitch for the office.
At the Aspen Summit, Dudas spoke about the scope of the counterfeit problem – more than $600 billion in pirated and counterfeited products flooded the world market last year.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has estimated that U.S. businesses alone lose $250 billion a year.
The patent office has been training officials in foreign countries on how to conduct raids and prosecute criminal activity.
But Dudas said he worries even more about the U.S. staying ahead in innovation.
"We’re getting what we want right now – we wanted the world to lift up," he said, adding counterfeiting is not as big as the "innovation problem."