US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews in Alexandria, VA | Glassdoor

US Patent and Trademark Office Alexandria Reviews

Updated March 29, 2017
222 reviews

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Alexandria, VA

3.0
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Michelle Lee
15 Ratings

222 Employee Reviews

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Pros
Cons
  • Meeting production requirements on a bi-weekly schedule may be difficult at times (in 20 reviews)

  • Not being able to allow cases on top of multiple returns by your supervisor can make it impossible to meet production which leads to termination (in 19 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great quality of life job"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Insanely good flexibility and hours, great working atmosphere, no surprises, absolute job security, and solid money. You can work from home anywhere in the US and you can work part-time if desired. Once you achieve signatory authority, you'd be hard pressed to find a much better job for overall freedom and quality of life.

    Cons

    Very little social interaction, work can sometimes be monotonous, achieving production can be stressful, and the process for achieving signatory authority is stressful and frustrating.


  2. "Don't let the talk of flexibility obscure the negatives here"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Flexible Schedule and ability to work from home

    Cons

    Solo work--I'm on campus and find that there are days where I don't see a single person other than the security guards and people in the elevators. All doors on my floor are permanently shut. Everyone has their own counts to get done so its hard to get assistance.
    SPEs are more like paper pushers than managers. I talk to my SPE on average once a month. Shes not around and has made it clear shes not interested in helping unless the case is about to be an issue for her (i.e. its an appeal).
    There is no ladder to climb. Getting an examiner's job is easy...getting out, impossible.

    Advice to Management

    Restructure the AU / TC system so that there are more opportunities for supervisors and actually have SPEs involved in examination. Paying a GS-15 to approve time-sheets is a waste of money


  3. Helpful (2)

    "Outdated Organization"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Quality of life - schedule flexibility, benefits, etc
    Hotelling program
    Self-sufficient work (if you have a supervisor that allows you to be)

    Cons

    Job is HIGHLY dependent on your supervisor. If you don't happen to see eye-to-eye with him/her, you will struggle. Additionally, you have little control of who your supervisor is and how you may interact with them
    Hardly room for any career growth - complacency may settle in. Exit options are extremely limited after a few years
    Boring, monotonous work. Outdated and sometimes difficult production system turns you into a paper pusher - often leading to reduced quality of examination

    Advice to Management

    SPEs could be picked more carefully - some have extremely limited management or personal skills


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  5. "Technical Writer & Editor"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Technical Writer/Editor in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Technical Writer/Editor in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great work environment. Plenty of room for opportunity and learning. Great Benefits.

    Cons

    Not really many cons to working here.


  6. "Patent Examiner Basics"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Once you are fully trained and up to speed, you are able to work on challenging materials with little micro-managing.

    Cons

    People sometimes thinks lesser of you or talk down to you as a government employee.

    Advice to Management

    Don't let minor public issues drastically change office practices.


  7. "For young kids having energy to follow a plurality of instant changes. Not good for people with bunch of distractions."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    When you are ready for extreme working challenges, they can provide you huge bonus and overtime pay.

    Cons

    don't expect a wonderful life before you being granted with signature authority

    Advice to Management

    PLease provide better options when exployee no longer compatible.


  8. Helpful (4)

    "Patent Examiner"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    Security, good benefits, retirement. Work can be interesting. Fee training.

    Cons

    Exploitive. Would not pay to move me from CA to VA. They want work to good quality, fast, too few hours allotted to do essentially piece work.

    Advice to Management

    It's 21st century. Get with it.


  9. "Excellent working at the forefront of technology. Substantive technical and legal experience."

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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)

    Pros

    Flexibility and work life balance. Great pay. Good social collegial atmosphere. Opportunities for noncompetitive advancement (do the work and be good and it — you'll get promoted).

    Cons

    Repetitive work. Depending on your art, you may not often see groundbreaking technology. Too much job satisfaction hinges on your SPE. Some are good; some aren't.

    Advice to Management

    Some SPEs need more management training.


  10. "Patent Extern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Great Experience

    Wonderful Place to Work and Live

    Cons

    Compensation is 0 for an intern and there is no job guarantee after the summer, but if you have a chance to apply definitely take it.


  11. Helpful (10)

    "No Job Security - Highly Political - Dead end Career Path"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    I have known one or two highly motivated people with legal degrees come to the PTO for a short time 1-2 years max in order to transition into patent prosecution. Otherwise a long term career isn't as great. The telework program allows location flexibility, however there is currently a very strong motivation at the management level to track every hour teleworkers work through keyloggers and constant monitoring. However, if you work on campus nobody really cares. The office also provides standard federal benefits. These are nowhere near what better places of employment provide, but are better than the average private sector job.

    Cons

    It is a dead end career path. This career prepares you for nothing else. It is basically the resume equivalent of not working at all. Perhaps worse. Other than working at a patent prosecution firm, in which case you will want a law degree, there are few options once leaving. Management is entirely number oriented. You are on production, docket management, quality, and recently time and attendance. Any one of these can be used to force you out at the whims of management. I have seen people with proper production and workflow axed due to time and management issues. In one instance they came into the office while a teleworker and were told they were AWOL. When management was informed they badged into and worked in the office the office refused to look into their own badge in/out records and insisted the examiner obtain it through a FOIA request. Once the info was obtained management then refused to remove the AWOL status as they said the examiner had exceeded their time to respond. Several constant issues like this finally pushed the examiner out through essentially a constructive dismissal. Primarily management uses these means when production is low. Quality is sometimes used if production and workflow are met. Other examiners (even those at GS-15 in re-exam) have been fired over quality issues after 25 years at the office with 24 of those years having an outstanding or commendable rating. It is also worth noting that the PTO has had some of the highest attrition rates of any government agency in the Federal government. This is not a place you can expect to stay at through a career or have any useful options to transition to if you leave. Just avoid it.

    Advice to Management

    Hire more engineers straight out of college. Maintain a huge surplus of workers. Given that the career path is a dead end attrition will remain high. Try to be less capricious/political with who you target and fire in order to prove you are doing a good job to Congress. Actually provide training to examiners, serious training. Accept that quality control is out of your hands and is at the whims of the judiciary. Such 50% of certain biotech/computer cases going from patent eligible to 101 ineligible randomly.



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