US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews

Updated August 18, 2015
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3.0
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Teresa Stanek Rea
5 Ratings

Pros
  • All the benefits of a federal job with job security and super flexible schedules (you can work from home full time) (in 27 reviews)

  • flexible work schedule allows for family friendly atmosphere, working from home is great (in 19 reviews)

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

  • Challenging production requirements (in 7 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

32 Employee Reviews

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  1. Helpful (2)

    PTO not for everyone

    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

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

    Pros

    Great flexibility in time, lots of non work activities to get involved in

    Cons

    count system is not fair for new employees there are no breaks, management only cares about your numbers nothing else, can terminate you anytime in your first year without any warning

    Advice to Management

    Be more honest with examiners if there not going to make it just tell them don't jerk them around


  2. In it for the benefits

    • 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Benefits are great: work from home, good retirement plan, good health/dental, strong union, ample opportunity for promotions and bonuses.

    Cons

    It is rare for me to find anyone that enjoys the actual work we are required to do for this job.

    Advice to Management

    There's really not much more you can do about this.. You've tried to compensate for a miserable work experience with good benefits.. What more can we ask?


  3. Helpful (6)

    Job is not for everyone but it may work out well for you.

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Good federal benefits and pension. Flexible work schedule and hoteling. Automatic promotion based on production percentile. Nice campus with lots of amenities (gym, daycare, cafeteria, health and wellness center ...). Examining may turn out easy and straightforward based on your time management and decision making, your supervisor and/or primary examiner who signs off your cases, and your art unit area. Paid law school.

    Cons

    Your entry is probationary and you will be retained if you meet the production requirement of you GS level. Reaching or maintaining your production requirement can become a nightmare even for primary examiners and is a hard limit for retention and even later for receiving warnings or disciplinary actions, regardless of other quality measures, which has affected the quality of examining at the Office. You become more and more independent (read isolated) from other coworkers as you get promoted. Your supervisor probably has very little or no management skills as he or she has been an isolated examiner for about 10 years or so only doing patent examination before becoming a supervisor. As you grow in your job, your opportunities in engineering career diminishes and you will be stuck with the PTO (there might be chances for joining patent law firms specially if you manage to get your law degree). The flexible work schedule may get you in the habit of working overnights and weekends which is definitely against work/life balance.

    Advice to Management

    Please do not let new supervisors to start their management career before they have passed some training, or at least limit them from signing off cases until their heavy training times are passes. Also, please pay attention to the ability of the new supervisors in comprehending the technology they are going to be assigned to (yes it matters).


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  5. 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Pay, flexibility, bonus, overtime pay, bonus The position is evaluation is based on metrics, not in personal opinion of your supervisor. Since the performance goal is all set, you know exactly what you need to do. You won't be ever left wondering if you are doing well or not.

    Cons

    Extremely boring and repetitive. If it's not boring and repetitive, you know you are stuck in a very difficult technology area, in which case you better switch to a boring to repetitive(240) 481-8076 AU.


  6. Patent Examiner

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

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office (More than a year)

    Pros

    Flexible Low Pressure You can work when you want to

    Cons

    Boring Lack of Social Events System is broken


  7. Helpful (2)

    IT Pro

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - IT Specialist in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - IT Specialist in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Pay Benefits Gym on campus On site cafe'

    Cons

    Very introverted workforce Politics get in the way of getting things done When something goes wrong, it is all finger pointing and no one takes ownership due to fear of management Lacking vision of future goals and projects


  8. 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 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.


  9. 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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    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 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.


  10. Helpful (1)

    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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    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 Management

    Please re-evaluate hours per bd for medical arts.


  11. 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
    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



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