US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews

Updated June 30, 2015
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  1. Helpful (1)

    For examiners, the flexibility is the biggest perk here

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office

    Pros

    Flexibility
    Ability to work from home
    Salary is competitive with other federal agencies

    Cons

    Work can become mundane over time. Difficult to transition after the PTO to a non-legal field

    Advice to Management

    Things seem to be swinging more towards the applicant's favor. Give examiners more time to do cases


  2. Helpful (27)

    A lukewarm first job

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 3 years)

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

    Pros

    I applied to the USPTO (PTO) because I was interested in working in the patent industry and wanted to base my understanding of the industry on experience and not strictly word of mouth. I worked four years at the PTO before leaving to work somewhere else. I left because I was bored with the same routine and had learned enough about the patent industry. Also, I learned enough to determine that I did not want to stay at the PTO nor work in the patent industry.

    flexible work hours, government benefits package, good starting salary (with option for overtime after first year), promotions based strictly on performance (up to GS-14), you are your own boss when you become a “Primary Examiner” (GS-14), excellent learning experience if you are interested in the patent industry.

    Cons

    Unusual work schedule: There were bi-weeks when I could get the job done within the first week and attend to other objectives the second week but then there were bi-weeks where I was working 7 days a week. The work schedule is a roller coaster ride so try to make production every bi-week and do not try to cram until the last minute. This modus operandi (MO) might be the single most important ability at the PTO. I’ve read a lot of complaints about the job being stressful but I never determined that the job was stressful and I imagine this MO prevented me from being stressed while working at the PTO.

    No one supervises the supervisors: I endured many an event where the supervisor had me retract my rejection or change references because they couldn't understand what I was doing or just didn't want to and had me search for another reference and redo the office action. In fact, in every instance where a supervisor got involved, the outcome was worse. This occurs because most of them don’t want to read all data that you have read and only look at snippets of information.

    The attorneys play a lot of games: They have three games that they play to get around your rejection without actually arguing against it.
    Cancel all claims and submit new ones.
    Heavily amend existing claims.
    Pile up the paperwork for arguments.

    A lot of cases that I saw were not novel at all and so the attorneys will do anything they can to get them allowed because that’s what they get paid for and that's what stays on their record. Some will just flat out lie. These games are tolerated by top management at the Office and become just part of the job.

    Advice to Management

    Work with the examiners. Most of them are just trying to get by and your job is super safe.

    Summary
    After working at the PTO for a year and a half, I determined that:
    1.) An engineering degree is not necessary to work at the PTO, it actually hinders your ability to have a higher production number because in engineering school you have to stay conceptually consistent. At the PTO, not so much.

    2.) Of all the patent applications I saw, I never saw one actual invention. While I understand this expedites the patent examining process, every one of those applications could have been made up and not based on an device that was created.

    3.) There is a game played where no matter what “prior art” you cite, the attorneys always argue because they are being paid by multinational companies. For the most part, they always get a patent application allowed (albeit with amendments) and I was actually punished by continually rejecting the same applications. By punished I’m referring to receiving less credit for each office action associated with the application (doing the same amount of work for less money), its office policy. Eventually, I just accepted a routine of rejecting the application in the first round and allowing it, with amendments, in the second, regardless of what was disclosed. I got paid to prosecute cases not continually argue one case.

    My advice if you want to work at the PTO for the entirety of your career is to gain the accelerated promotions and buddy up with your supervisor to continue receiving promotions. The whole career track at the PTO is designed for the examiner to earn “full signatory authority” in which you can sign all your cases and consequently reject or allow any case you want. Once you get this “full signatory authority” you don’t have to answer to anyone. The less people you have to interact with for this job, the better.

    The supervisors can’t give or block promotions but they do considerably affect your numbers and a lot of their actions become based on whether they “trust” you or not, not so much of actually reading the claims, reading the application, reading the reference(s) cited and then reading your rejection. I imagine they revert to trust instead of reading everything because it is that much easier and they have to supervise 20 examiners. Work with the attorneys and supervisors to get to an agreement. The attorneys are looking for a Notice of Allowability and the Supervisors and mostly looking for some kind of amendment. Satisfy both conditions and your home free, only to repeat the same motions again and again.


  3. Some people like it, some people don't.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 a year)

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

    Pros

    Reasonably easy and low stress if you're self motivated and have good time management skills. VERY causal environment, this can be a good or a bad thing if you're used to working in a corporate setting. Yes the schedules are flexible but many technical jobs share similarly flexible schedules.

    Cons

    Initial compensation when coming from the private sector is very low. Work culture isn't the most pleasant, due to the throughput oriented performance metrics, most people keep to themselves and are very focused on their own work. There is strong emphasis on putting fail-safes in place to prevent employees from taking advantage of incentive and performance programs.

    Advice to Management

    The hire within, most upper management have only worked at the USPTO and have no idea how other companies and incentive programs are run.


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  5. USPTO Patent Experience Extern Program (SUMMER)

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

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - Training for 2 weeks on statutes and Patent Law
    - Training in different databases as well as hardware used at the USPTO
    - Create office actions (work actually done by patent examiners)
    - Friendly and Supportive Supervisor

    Cons

    - Unpaid
    - Need to work at least 32 hrs per week
    - Externs responsibilities vary tremendously depending on art unit

    Advice to Management

    - Less hrs per week
    - Standardize the externship


  6. Patent Examiner

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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 a year)

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Great pay and benefits such as telework opportunities. Stressfulness of job depends on your supervisor and technology area. Good opportunity for very efficient workers- you have to stay vigilant and focused to meet your quota.

    Cons

    Some technology areas (notably the medical arts e.g. surgical devices) are not given adequate time to examine applications. Subject material is extremely complex and it can be nearly impossible for relatively inexperienced recent graduates to give applications a proper examination. Also if you get a poor/overworked/unhelpful supervisor you're going to have a rough time, but most of them are pretty good.

    Advice to Management

    Please re-evaluate hours per bd for medical arts.


  7. A very diversity , well organized company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner In 1600s in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner In 1600s in Alexandria, VA

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office

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

    Pros

    Allows you the opportunity to advance to leadership position

    Cons

    My challenges in working here consist of a lot of searching to fit the invention an managing DM

    Advice to Management

    This job is a very stressful job and I was able to handle it for eight years, now Its time for a career change; I have return to school and getting my masters In HR Management and I capable of adapting to new task and I feel that I'm a perfect candidate for this position


  8. Helpful (2)

    First year junior patent examiner

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    lots of training provided. flexible work hrs after 4 months training.

    Cons

    Too much information is thrown at you for a regular person to take all in. hrs are not flexible.
    You are required to meed a certain production to be retained as you are on a 1 year probationary period.

    Advice to Management

    Tailor the training to more hands on versus just dumping information.


  9. Great place to work

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office

    Pros

    Full time work from home anywhere in the country, flexible work schedule, great benefits

    Cons

    Isolating work, can be boring


  10. gs-11

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

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    Pros

    extremely flexible, decent pay and benefits

    Cons

    hit plateau in terms of challenge after couple years


  11. Flexible and Interesting

    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office full-time (More than 5 years)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Can work from home anywhere with high speed internet

    Cons

    Working mostly alone, can be reclusive job

    Advice to Management

    Keep opening satellite offices



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