US Patent and Trademark Office

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US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews in Virginia

Updated November 30, 2014
Updated November 30, 2014
173 Reviews
3.6
173 Reviews
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Teresa Stanek Rea
23 Ratings

Review Highlights

Pros
  • it's good, great flexibility, work from home, freedom to sign own work (in 27 reviews)

  • Flexible work schedule and workload (in 19 reviews)


Cons
  • Has to meet production requirement (in 8 reviews)

  • Challenging production requirements (in 7 reviews)

More Highlights

21 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 4 people found this helpful  

    Marketed as a less-stressful alternative; insanely stressful

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Good compensation, exposure to new technology, excellent facilities, bulletproof benefits, excellent training program, full-time work-from-home after two years, very flexible scheduling

    Cons

    Terrible work-life balance--you will work a *lot* of unpaid overtime in order to make production, which causes stress. Production requirements are insane. Early arrival and late departure is the norm.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Provide more one-on-one guidance for employees having difficulty making production. Provide more "real life" training rather than breaking down the principles of the patent laws. Work more closely with EAP to help employees having difficulty adjusting to the job.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 4 people found this helpful  

    NOT an engineering job but a legal job

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I am still trying to find one...

    Cons

    4 months training:
    - MANY 2 or 3 hour lecture with 40, 50 or 60+ power point slides, you are encouraged to print the slides to take to class, however, you are not allowed to read the slides before lecture and you are not allowed to take slides home. So how are you supposed to learn the stuff?
    - You are CONSTANTLY reminded that this is a production job and you can be let go if your numbers aren't satisfactory.
    - In training you are taught how to write "office actions" (replies to patent applications) in one way. I once made the mistake of asking three different trainers the same question and got three different answers. And when you move to your art unit, your supervisor tells you that you should write the "office actions" in another manner. In other words: no consistency.

    I tried doing research about the turnover rate at the USPTO, and it appears that nobody knows exactly. But the several articles that I read estimate the number between 30% to 50%. What the USPTO does are cattle calls, they hired 1000 people this year (2014) and expect 30% to 50% to quit the first year. And we were told that they plan to hire another 1000 more next year. When I heard that they hired 1000 examiners, I thought that the reason was due to the backlog of patent applications. I believe that the backlog might be a secondary reason with the main reason being the unusually high turnover rate. Do the research on the USPTO's turnover rate before accepting the offer, and see if you can find a reason WHY it is extraordinarily high.

    After a year, I feel that the job is really nothing more than legal petty arguments with lawyers over what this or that word means. And when I got international patent applications, it was worse because the applications are translations from applicants native language and all I could think is, "I feel like Linda Blair in the Exorcist movie" trying to translate it to a more reasonable form of English.

    One final thing to consider before accepting the offer from the USPTO, is the cost of living. I live almost 5 miles from the USPTO and I am paying $1500/mo. (1B/1B) in rent, and several people told me that 1500/mo is normal for the area. The cost of living is "gut-wrenchingly" expensive!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    - Change the training to include a book that trainees can read.
    - Rewrite the power points that are shown to the trainees, do not cram a whole chapter of material in one slide.
    - Limit the lectures to one hour, any more than that and you lose your audience.
    - ALLOW TIME TO READ THE MATERIAL THAT YOU EXPECT YOUR TRAINEES TO LEARN!
    - Get pedagogically trained teachers to teach the material, I could tell that most "lecturers" (and I am using the term loosely) were not prepared and were just "winging it," and some of them had such strong accents that made it difficult to understand.
    - During interviews ask applicants if they would consider changing their career from engineering to law, because that is what I ended up doing.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    Benefits good, management & policies questionable

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    The salary, ability to telework full-time, flexible schedule

    Cons

    Supervisors can have no technical knowledge & sign your work & lack communication & "soft skills". Further, as a junior, you report to a primary. As you continually get switched around, it becomes confusing & you get tired of accommodating other peoples' opinions (which they like to sell as "being flexible". It's a backwards system.

    Also it's not a social environment. It's essentially like working for yourself. There is no sense of teamwork or commraderie. The work itself is not bad. But please have an outside life before you come in.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

    management quality highly variable

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Flexible work schedules and work from home options for both examiners and managers as of 2014, production based advancement for examiners, good pay, good benefits, offices instead of cubes.

    Cons

    Managers are hired mainly on achievement as an examiner, which has almost no bearing on how good a manager someone will be. Yes, things are production based, but your direct supervisor reviews all of your work until you are GS13 partial sig, giving them great power over your success or failure as an examiner.
    My advice, do whatever it takes to get to primary examiner as fast as possible, then except for quality review team spot checks no one reviews your work.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Find better ways to identify management potential.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Primary Patent Examiner

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    Good salary and flexible schedule.

    Cons

    Challenging production requirements. Very isolating.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 10 people found this helpful  

    Management Courses should be a requirement.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (more than 8 years)

    Pros

    I'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.

    Cons

    If 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 ManagementAdvice

    Get 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    Not for Me

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Most 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.

    Cons

    Trainers 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 ManagementAdvice

    Insure 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  9. 2 people found this helpful  

    From a Non-Patent Examiner

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Graphic Designer in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Graphic Designer in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    A very creative work environment

    Cons

    If 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 ManagementAdvice

    When 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  10. 4 people found this helpful  

    Know what you are getting into

    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (more than an year)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    -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

  11. 4 people found this helpful  

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

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    It pays more than you will get from other companies.

    Cons

    They 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 ManagementAdvice

    The people between the upper management and the new employees are not qualified to manage others.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

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