US Patent and Trademark Office

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US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews

Updated January 28, 2015
Updated January 28, 2015
184 Reviews
3.6
184 Reviews
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Teresa Stanek Rea
28 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

Employee Reviews

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  1. 4 people found this helpful  

    Patent Examiner

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

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

    Pros

    This job is good for somebody who does not want to work as an engineer or who realizes that she/he is not good at engineering. The job consists of reading, searching for publications with similar inventions in databases, writing opinions, and arguing with others about interpretations and opinions. Zero engineering skills in design, research (real research, not reading about somebody else's research), test, evaluation are used.

    Cons

    I took the patent examiner job right out of college, worked for 6 months and transferred to an engineer job that is a good fit for me. My review is based on the 6 months working at the PTO.

    Be careful if you take this job as your first job out of college. This job is quasi-legal and bureaucratic, and you will loose your engineering skills and knowledge if you work in this job for longer that a year (I am guessing...). You resume will loose its marketability, you will be stuck with this job and be unable to get an engineer job in the future. This is not an engineer or researcher job. This is more like a journalist+librarian+legal job. If you take the job, please figure out if this job is worth it as quickly as you can because after a year in this job you may become unemployable as an engineer.

    Success in this job depends on 1) what art you get, 2) whether your SPE is helpful and whether she/he understands the art of your AU (she/he may be originally from a different art unit and may not know/understand your art); 3) whether anybody in your AU is willing to provide help. Asking questions helps but at first you will not know which primary is helpful (and if you AU has any helpful ones); keep finding new primaries to talk to until you find a primary who is competent in your art. I kept looking and found a competent primary in my AU on the day I accepted a job offer from my current engineer job.

    The Academy consists of 1 full months of lectures on patent law and examining procedures. The next 3 months are spent examining real cases with some guidance from your trainer and a examiner in your AU or your SPE. Your trainer may not necessarily know anything about your art. You may find yourself alone if examiners in your AU are not helpful as well (they may be busy because they have their production goals to meet). Your supervisor may be of little help with art too if she/he is from a different AU originally. You may get stuck with almost zero help and be basically examining on your own even in the very beginning. If your SPE does not understand the art, your rejections will be rubber-stamped by your SPE with little or no reading/verification and checking if your references are good enough.

    Few of my friends got nice SPEs and helpful primaries who helped and provided feedback on whether art if good enough, on things that need to be changed in office actions, etc. It all depends on luck of your initial placement in an AU by the HR. You may try to transfer to a different AU but it will take weeks, your application can be denied and your AU may block your transfer.

    New examiners with marketable engineer skills left the PTO even before I did. My understanding is that the new examiners from my Academy class who are still at the PTO now are 1) the ones who do not have marketable engineer skills (and thus the PTO job may be one of their best options), 2) who were laid off and can't yet find other engineer jobs (few of them said they were applying for engineer jobs), and 3) people with a BS in engineering + a JDs (and who can't find jobs as lawyers), or 4) the ones who were placed in art units that were a good fit with helpful primaries.

    Another tip is see if your AU (or that AU you will want to transfer) has weekly/bi-weekly meetings discussing issues relevant to its technology; AUs that have regular meetings like that may have more social examiners, which may be a sign that you will get help in that AU. My AU did not have meetings like that.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Appoint SPEs to art units whose technology they are examined in the past.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Intern

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office

    Pros

    Great working environment, good pay, and exciting work.

    Cons

    Many people work from home so it can get lonely.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    Best Place to Work in the Government

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office as an intern

    Pros

    You get very flexible scheduling, and good salary for a government job with only a Bachelors.

    Cons

    The work is very tedious

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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Patent Examiner

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

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

    Pros

    Flexibility on the work schedule.

    Cons

    Bad supervisors and selfish environment.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Some managers are not good at all in management. They need to learn how to give good constructive feedback and directions on how to be good at examining patent applications instead of bullying new examiners.

    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO
  6. 3 people found this helpful  

    It's a Job

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

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    If you can't do anything else, this is the place for you. It's done indoors, so there is no need to worry about the weather.

    Cons

    If you can do anything else, this is not the place for you. You are really just reading and analyzing other peoples technical achievements and it requires almost no creativity to do the job.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    The management is great- they do the best they can to make a difficult job easier.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7. 2 people found this helpful  

    A great job if you can cut corners and not have it bother you

    • 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

    Pros

    Great money (for government). The pay is great. Gym, childcare etc. A lot of perks along with a great salary and advancement opportunities.

    Cons

    Quantity is the number one objective ... but they also do not want "glaring" errors ... so it is a hard balance to strike.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Reform the whole system. The patent attorneys complain all the time about the "quality" of the office actions, bu they cannot say much because they are at the mercy of the USPTO.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8. 3 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
  9. 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
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Excellent work/life balance

    • 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

    telework, non-competitive promotions, quarterly and annual bonuses based on production and docket management, flexible work schedule

    Cons

    not a good environment if you have ambition or are curious and want to work in different subject areas, work experience can be bad if you have a bad/incompetent supervisor

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Either truly open all detail and promotion opportunities up to hotelers' without bias in favor of those on campus or be honest that opportunities for variety will disappear when you become a hoteler. That's one of the main reasons people go home and stay home and never come back. I think this can easily be remedied though by explaining to HR that examiners can in fact read. Their very living depends on it. If they're applying to a detail or position where hoteling or telework is not permitted it's because they've accepted that, made the appropriate arrangements and still applied anyway.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Friendly, Helpful, Best Legal Experience So Far

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

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office as an intern (less than a year)

    Pros

    Friendly Atmosphere, Non-competitive legal atmosphere, Mentoring, Federal Government Employee, Telecommuting

    Cons

    There really weren't any cons

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the good work!

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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