US Patent and Trademark Office

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US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews

Updated Jul 2, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.4 133 reviews

92% Approve of the CEO

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Teresa Stanek Rea

(13 ratings)

62% of employees recommend this company to a friend

Review Highlights

Pros
  • it's good, great flexibility, work from home, freedom to sign own work(in 25 reviews)

  • flexible work schedule allows for family friendly atmosphere, working from home is great(in 17 reviews)


Cons
  • A good supervisor makes your life easy, but a micro-managing supervisor can make it more difficult to meet production requirements on time(in 10 reviews)

  • I have used the term "intellectual sweatshop" which gives a vivid idea of the production requirements they expect from you(in 5 reviews)

20 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
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    4 people found this helpful  

    An honest look at employment at the USPTO for engineers with experience

    Patent Examiner (Former Employee)

    ProsThe pay and benefits. The culture if you're at the main campus. Working on your own to accomplish a task. The initial training even if it really is only good for teaching the laws and can not convey the actual experience of working in an art unit.

    ConsMy one year at the USPTO was both nerve wracking and a learning experience over all. I would advise prospective employees to think long and hard before taking this job especially if you have engineering experience. This job is like non-other, you will get X amount of time in training but expect to perform immediately after on a rising slope of production. In the first 6 months 60%, at 8 months 80% and at 10 months 95%-100%. This may not seem bad but be wary it is a very fast approach for someone with no experience. I honestly believe that someone fresh out of college or law school would have an easier time with this as they are essentially a "clean" slate. Engineering experience is both a benefit and a hamper because in this job everything is looked at through a legal lens. Prepare to throw away your engineering technical mind and enter a of world gray lines better known as "interpretation". Meaning, that you will have to traverse the mine field of other people's interpretations who are signing your work and evaluating the "art" you cite to reject your applications.

    I would highly recommend that you DO NOT uproot yourself for this position. There are far too many risks in the first year regarding being retained (20% of the people in my class left before month 6). For instance, many of my applications were not reviewed until Sunday night before count Monday (the due date) at about 8-11pm. Meaning you would have to work on these applications through the night to have them handed in by 3pm the next day. I can not stress the reality of this enough. This is one minor hiccup. If you get a SPE (Supervisory Patent Examiner) who is not familiar with your art (mine wasn't) then you might be in for a bit of trouble. If his/her interpretation does not line up with yours then you will have to trash w/e you worked on and redo everything. This is a daunting task believe me especially if you are in an art unit with a high BD (number of hours you get to evaluate per case).

    If you do choose to try this. I would immediately scope out everyone in your art unit and try to guage who is helpful and who could really careless if you succeed. There are many primaries in the art units that simply do not want to help anyone. Primarily b/c they are deeper in the swamp than you are. The SPE in alot of cases will be there for you but will most likely brow beat you as a method of learning. This is not an effective means of learning for this job as it really requires a mentor mentee atmosphere. The training academy will train you for the most part but you will likely redo every application from the academy as it will NOT be correct per the art unit's policies and interpretations.

    I myself had to put in many many hours of overtime over the course of the year (including weekends) to meet production but in the end I did dip and as a result had to quit. There will be no leniency they will drop you like a sack of potatoes even if you have one week left (my case).

    Advice to Senior Management1) Stop telling first years production doesn't matter. We don't believe you.
    2) Consider giving first years a handicap as they do not have the benefits of allowances, disposals, RCE (request for continued examination) or any other point additions which help people with more than 2 years of experience. These additional point substitutes do no come into play until about 16 - 24 months.
    3) Stop throwing people away. You spend an amazing amount of money training new people coming in only to throw them away after a year. This is NOT a matter of them not getting it. I personally saw a guy with an engineering degree from UPenn and a law degree from Chicago having to walk away. The problem isn't with them it's the bumps in the road of the training and possibly the art unit. They may seem minute but they project a LARGE impact.
    4) All new hires should start at GS7 or lower. Regardless of degrees and especially if they have no experience in IP. No new higher should start as a GS9 (just my opinion).
    5)It is not acceptable to loose 20% of your incoming class. That speaks volumes to the people inside the agency and prospective new hires. It tells them you simply do not care about keeping people and that there is no loyalty should a person fall behind for any reason.
    6) The SPE's must take a more proactive roll assisting examiners. You can not expect new examiners to recognize any and all problems with an application. There honestly needs to be some bit of hand holding at first on your end through out the first year. Keep in mind they're new to IP and this is a totally new beast to deal with.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    6 people found this helpful  

    Management Courses should be a requirement.

    Patent Examiner (Current Employee) Alexandria, VA

    ProsI'll echo some of the comments others have left that the atmosphere is laid back, great benefits, decent pay, etc. But so is every other federal agency. The all have the same pay and benefits. Patent Office might pay just slightly higher. Work/life balance is second to none because of the hotelling program. Again, it is not unique to the Patent Office.

    ConsIf you get stuck with a shitty manager, which happens often, good luck to you. You will feel like a helpless little kid. Adults should not be treated that way in a workplace. They are all a bunch of fat, stubborn bureaucrats; typical government agency. Typical manager has absolutely no idea how to communicate. Most are unapproachable. Extremely subjective and very stubborn. Advancement is non-competitive which requires no special skills or education thus reducing the quality of the "Applicant" to senior management. Managers and Directors come from the same stock. No management training, and most never managed a single person throughout their entire careers which could be as long as 20 years before becoming managers. Their presentation skills are worse than those of a high school student. Other than that, job is extremely boring.

    Advice to Senior ManagementGet some management classes. It should be a requirement to go through training or have an MBA. Training that the Patent office "suggests' is not enough. It does not require to do homework, work on projects, presentations, There are no classes on culture and leadership communication. It does not teach how to deal with subordinates. Most Managers have absolutely no clue how to deal with a subordinate.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    2 people found this helpful  

    Not for Me

    Patent Examiner (Former Employee) Alexandria, VA

    ProsMost of the staff directly involved in the training program were great and eager to help. Contractors brought in to demonstrate the use of various programs were excellent and their training was very structured.

    ConsTrainers did not necessarily have any knowledge in your particular subject area, which caused them to lead you astray from time to time. Supervisors and others with signatory authority did not participate enough in the training efforts and, in some cases, were even detrimental by leading the trainee on wild goose chases. Often, different answers were given to the same questions. This is to be expected in gray areas, but not on questions of policy.

    Advice to Senior ManagementInsure your supervisors are required to meet with the trainees at the scheduled times or, if not possible, to establish an alternate time to be noted on the trainees schedule so that no trainee is left without meeting their supervisor during the entire 4 month program. Make it a punishable offense to provide misinformation (such as providing incorrect job search categories when the trainee is not specific in their request - even though their trainer told them they only needed to give the application # with no additional information). This misinformation leads to a waste of time by the trainee, trainer, supervisor, and any others involved. Any inefficiencies ultimately cost the customer as they are reflected in the patent filing costs.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

  1. We want your feedback – Are these company reviews helpful to you?  Yes | No
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    From a Non-Patent Examiner

    Graphic Designer (Current Employee) Alexandria, VA

    ProsA very creative work environment

    ConsIf you are in a non-examining position and not in a bargaining unit, good luck. The biggest mistake this private sector agency disguised as government makes is how they hire their leaders. The agency is run by people who have very impressive resumes, but no experience with actually managing groups of people, they are not willing to resolve conflicts, only care about themselves, demonstrate lots of favoritism, and have no idea about how government operates.

    Advice to Senior ManagementWhen you hire leaders, start paying more attention to their experience with supervising diverse groups of people. Just because someone has a political background and a fancy resume, doesn't make them a leader.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    4 people found this helpful  

    Know what you are getting into

    Patent Examiner (Current Employee) Alexandria, VA

    Pros-flexible schedule (after training)
    -high earning potential
    -can be easy work if you "get" it

    Cons-beginning pay seems like a lot but doesn't go far in DC area
    -no control over art unit (specialty) you are assigned to
    -ruins value of engineering degree, especially for new engineers
    -zero job security, not like other government work
    -training doesn't prepare you for realities of job; expect to get thrown to the wolves and expected to meet production without having all the tools to do so (i.e., allowances)
    -they tout that you can get a promotion after only 6 months, but very few people in our large hiring class made the promotion on-time due to falling short of production requirements
    -have to work in a windowless cell for years before teleworking/promotion opportunities become available
    -don't uproot yourself for this job like I did if you are unfamiliar with patent prosecution

    Advice to Senior Management-I understand the pressures you are under to move applications, but the current policies and incentives result in a lot of bad rejections from junior examiners and a lot of bad allowances from senior examiners

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    3 people found this helpful  

    It's a government job-don't expect what they say that they will provide.

    Patent Examiner (Former Employee) Alexandria, VA

    ProsIt pays more than you will get from other companies.

    ConsThey call it training and probationary period; but what they say or what the new law says, they don't follow it outside of training. Yes, they expect you to break the law. Expect for them to disturb you if they do not like you so that you will fail quizzes and deadlines. Anything and everything done on computers is monitored; and they will slow down your node if they do not like you as well. It does not matter if you are highly educated - it is only about who they like. They are rated as the #5 best place to work in federal government; but even the interim director left after the new law passed. It's an average place at best that pays above the rest.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThe people between the upper management and the new employees are not qualified to manage others.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Mixed

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsFlexible schedule, get to learn about various ideas, good pay

    ConsManagement only cares about numbers & does not value good employees. Basically I was told because I was smart & did well, that was the reason I kept getting moved around to different art units & forced to learn new things with new incompetent supervisors while other employees that did not catch on got to sit around & not be challenged. Be very careful of not doing too well. Management will catch up & end up using you to achieve their end goals.

    Advice to Senior ManagementTake care of your good employees if you want to keep them happy as opposed to using them & forcing them into situations where they have no choice.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Patent Examiner

    Patent Examiner (Current Employee) Alexandria, VA

    ProsGreat Flex Schedule, Pay and Benefits, and Area

    Consslow paced, monotonous paper pushing, bureaucratic

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    2 people found this helpful  

    Great compensation and benefits, but little or no social interaction.

    Patent Examiner (Former Employee) Alexandria, VA

    ProsCompensation
    Benefits
    Technology support
    Flexibility
    New office facilities
    Excellent exercise facilities

    ConsNo social interaction
    Mundane work
    No continuing education
    No tuition reimbursement

    Advice to Senior ManagementNeed to provide more time for patent review, reduce quota system

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    2 people found this helpful  

    Management does not know what it is doing, no experience

    Junior Patent Examiner (Former Employee) Alexandria, VA

    ProsDecent pay, flexible hours, work from home

    ConsManagers have very little experience, almost no one with real-world engineering experience, management doesn't trust employees

    Advice to Senior ManagementRespect junior examiners' decisions when they want to allow a patent application. Don't keep forcing us to come up with more and more references as the applicants add more claim limitations. Appoint managers from outside the patent office (e.g., patent attorneys) to get more balance into the system.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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