Four Questions for Andrei Iancu
Law Week asks the USPTO director about training patent examiners, balancing interests and thinking like an engineer

by Doug Chartier

LAW WEEK: How would you characterize the IP community in the Rocky Mountain area? Do you notice distinctions in terms of the industries, the types of professionals that tend to congregate here?

IANCU: So historically, especially lately in the United States, IP had been, and continues to be to some extent, highly concentrated. It is not dispersed equally to the same level that the U.S. population is dispersed, unfortunately. So you have innovation and entrepreneurship, and therefore IP creation, highly concentrated in places like Silicon Valley, the Boston-Philadelphia corridor, Seattle lately.

What’s happened more recently, and it’s a very good thing to see, is that other communities have gotten into the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosphere. Denver in particular is one such example. Denver right now is very different than it was, let’s say 20 years ago. A lot more technology here now. As a result, quite a few more patent lawyers and IP lawyers than there used to be. And that is a sign that innovation is happening here in Colorado.

I saw the same thing elsewhere in the region. I went to Fargo, North Dakota, at an innovation event there, and it was an amazing event. The innovation that’s taking place in Fargo is remarkable. We also went to Salt Lake City. And likewise, we saw an increase that was really remarkable.

And it’s one of the major goals of mine — of the administration’s — to broaden the innovation ecosphere in the United States as much as possible. We want to broaden geographically, we want to broaden demographically so that more women, racial minorities, and other underrepresented classes participate. And we want to broaden economically so that folks from all types of economic communities participate. And the fact that we’re seeing this diversification in the region, is a very good thing to see.

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