US Patent and Trademark Office

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US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews in Washington, DC

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

135 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Rated as one of the best places to work in the federal government.

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

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

    Pros

    I am a primary examiner and have been working at the US PTO for over 12 years.
    The common comments I see are "stressful job", "monotonous", "production oriented", etc. Well, one has to realize that this is a job that requires a lot of reading and comprehending, as well as analytical skills. The material can be drab. Often times patent applications are translations from foreign languages. A significant number of references are in foreign languages and the translations available are machine translations with their own limitations. New and novel ideas are scarce. Most applications have subject that has small, incremental changes from the state of the art. The examiner's challenge is to determine the minute difference from the state of the art that makes an application patentable. An examiner has to work through all these difficulties. Therefore, this is not a job for everyone. It requires a special kind of skill to succeed as a patent examiner.
    To me, this is my dream job. I love it. I would recommend it to anyone, who has the attitude and the inclination to do this type of work.
    The pay is good. The benefits are excellent. Flexible work schedule. Allowed to work from anywhere in the country, where a good broadband internet service is allowable. Great and continued work related training as well as financial and retirement training and various other social and developmental help. Job security.
    This is also one of the most independent jobs one could find. Other than occasional quality audits, the primary examiner is independent in his/her work. No supervising. No approvals.
    Job promotions and other activities are available without any discrimination.
    I joined the PTO after several years of industrial experience, and I found the job to be a welcome change.
    Irrespective of the position one held, one has to start at a lower level and then get trained on the job. However, please do not consider this as a deterrent. I took more than 50% pay cut when I joined as a Junior examiner but in a few of years, I started getting comparable or better salaries than what I had in the industry.
    I say, if you are up to this challenge, then join the PTO.

    Cons

    This job is not for everyone. In requires patience, good ability to read and comprehend, and analytical skills. It is a desk job. Most work is online. Irrespective of what experience and qualifications, one gets only a lower level position and must get rigorous training before one becomes a primary. But then, that is why a primary examiner is paid a good salary and all that great benefits.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    Good work experience as an extern

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

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

    Pros

    Good training, immediate work after training alongside a current patent examiner. Easy access to many restaurants, transit, employee gym, farmers market on site, and cafeteria on site.

    Cons

    The more you move up as an examiner, the more work you are expected to output AKA you are expected to review more patent applications per pay period. Some people may like this, some may view it as too stressful.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3.  

    The best part of USPTO is job flexibility; the ability to telework at least two days per week.

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

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

    Pros

    Work-life balance, job security, training opportunities

    Cons

    Senior Leadership is lacking in the qualities and/or values that one would consider best in class.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Walk the talk.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5.  

    I have enjoy working for the US Patent & Trademark Office

    • 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 (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    What I like about working at the US Patent and Trademark Office is the flexibility that the job offers.

    Cons

    What I dis-like about working at the US Patent and Trademark Office is that there is not much employee interaction.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    I believe that management has good job fulfilling the needs of the Patent Examiner's

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  6.  

    Some people like it, some people don't.

    • 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 a year)

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  7.  

    Patent Examiner

    • 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 a year)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    Please re-evaluate hours per bd for medical arts.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  8.  

    A very diversity , well organized company

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

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    PTO Service Desk

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

    I have been working at US Patent and Trademark Office as a contractor (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    This environment is fast paced and collaborative. There are opportunities for advancement within the contract. The opportunities to learn and grow come with that advancement. If you make the effort, it will be recognized in some fashion.

    Cons

    The fast paced environment can lead to higher stress levels. Things are always in flux and changing/evolving. If you like structure and stability, this is not the right environment for you.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Recognize the stress factors for employees. Realize that when something is pointed out, whether it is a normal part of their "Job Description" or not, there is a reason.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  10.  

    First year junior patent examiner

    • 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

    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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 11 people found this helpful  

    A lukewarm first job

    • 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 3 years)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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