US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews

Updated April 14, 2015
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137 Employee Reviews

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  1. Great flexibility

    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Washington, DC

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

    Pros

    The ability to work from home and basically whenever you want is great, along with clear expectations as to how much work you need to do.

    Cons

    The work is very challenging in a way that is not particularly interesting, at least it is not interesting to me.

    Advice to Management

    Keep increasing the flexibility of the office, as you have already been doing.

  2. Helpful (4)

    "It's as good as you make it"

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

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

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

    Pros

    - Collegial work environment (not without conflict, but conflicts are minor)
    - Work at home 2 days a week (examining attorneys may work at home full time after 2 years)
    - Flexible work schedules (not quite as flexible as the schedules of examining attorneys)
    - Completely electronic environment
    - Good office space
    - Management decisions regarding finances and and staffing consistently sound
    - Consistently seeks to improve regarding the mission of the Agency, which means problems encountered by staff are often addressed if it gets in the way of the mission

    Cons

    - Annual performance evaluation is largely determined by the success of your work unit as opposed to being based on one's own individual efforts (as opposed to examining attorney whose evaluation is determined almost entirely on the efforts of the individual)
    - Electronic environment creates huge dependence on the IT support, and the IT support is not what is should be or what it has been in the past
    - Risk adverse

  3. Helpful (11)

    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)

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

    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 Management

    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.

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  5. Helpful (3)

    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 a year)

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

    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 Management

    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.

  6. I had an average time as an extern for the Patent Office.

    Former Intern - Patent Examiner Extern in Washington, DC
    Former Intern - Patent Examiner Extern in Washington, DC

    I worked at US Patent and Trademark Office as an intern (Less than a year)

    Pros

    The work place is very laid back, no strict dress code.

    Cons

    The externship was unpaid and kind of boring.

  7. Helpful (3)

    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 a year)

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

    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 Management

    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.

  8. Helpful (2)

    Great.

    • 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)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    You make 2-3x more $$$ per hour than you do as an associate attorney.

    Cons

    You make more $$$ as an associate attorney.

  9. Helpful (5)

    Huge perks, super flexible, incredibly stressful and full of minutiae

    • 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 part-time

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    -The salary is fantastic for an entry level job
    -The scheduling is very flexible. You could easily work 4 day weeks within your first year
    -A great inside look at a very specific industry
    -Very transparent job requirements and evaluations
    -Lots of different possible career paths

    Cons

    -Tight deadlines on multiple fronts, very stressful
    -An almost absurd attention to detail in documents
    -Thousands of grammatically inconsistent technical legal documents to search through daily

    Advice to Management

    Provide one on one training, some sort of shadowing program for new hires to learn the subtleties of the job that can't be explained well.

  10. Helpful (5)

    Challenging work, rewarding career.

    • 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)

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great flexibility.
    Great work environment.
    The overall atmosphere are the uspto is a very relaxed. This is a great job for someone who has legal training in intellectual property law. For the most part, the job is fair and does a great job training examiners in the art of patent examination.

    Cons

    Endless production.
    Work sometimes require time outside the normal 9-5.
    Since most of the entry level examiners are not patent lawyer or legally trained, the agency should put more effort into giving the new examiners a holistic view of how law firms and patent prosecution works so the examiners understand how to perform their job better. Your success also depends on your supervisor. A good supervisor makes your life easy, but a micro-managing supervisor can make it more difficult to meet production requirements on time.

    Advice to Management

    Please keep your examiners informed of the ever changing rules and regulations within the agency.

  11. Helpful (8)

    Production Counts are what Counts

    • 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 a year)

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    Pros

    For me it was fun to understand the inventions in the patent applications and to try to find prior art (work/invention) which was the same as the invention in the patent application; or to alternatively find aspects of the invention in multiple pieces of prior art and to make an argument why it would've been obvious to combine those aspects. It's challenging and you're learning everyday.

    Cons

    Even during your first year when theoretically you're not evaluated based on your production level, you are expected to be at a 60%, 80% and 100% production levels by 6, 8 and 11 months respectively. That's understandable as the USPTO is financed by the fees generated by production and therefore they only want to keep people they know can produce at the expected level. But it does make for a stressful job if you're having difficulty meeting production expectations.

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