US Patent and Trademark Office Primary Patent Examiner Reviews | Glassdoor

US Patent and Trademark Office Primary Patent Examiner Reviews

Updated February 11, 2017
15 reviews

Filter

Filter

Primary Patent Examiner

2.4
Star Star Star Star Star
Rating Trends Rating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
(no image)
Michelle Lee
2 Ratings

Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date

Pros
Cons
  • Meeting production requirements on a bi-weekly schedule may be difficult at times (in 26 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. Helpful (2)

    "Primary Patent Examiner"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Flexibility, Telework, Salary, Self Management - If you are able to meet deadlines, work independently, and manage many applications at once, the job itself can be very enjoyable. It is interesting work and gives you the opportunity to see new inventions every day.

    Cons

    Bureaucracy, Senior Leadership Disconnection from Workforce, Hands Off Management - Management is not involved in day-to-day or even week-to-week work of examiners. Decisions are made by people who haven't done the job in many years or, in some cases, decades.

    Advice to Management

    Listen to the people who are actually in the trenches and try to incorporate their feedback into decision making.


  2. Helpful (8)

    "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.


  3. Helpful (12)

    "Toxic work environment with poor leadership"

    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
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    After a certain amount of time you can work from home. For the time being you can work from anywhere in the US. However, this option is set to expire in 2017 unless Congress approves an extension.

    Flexible schedule and good pay (assuming you only work 40 hours a week)

    Cons

    - Sweatshop style production. Family member dies and you didn't meet your quota? Too bad. PTO Servers Fail and you can't do production? You're expected to do production anyways. Servers generally fail a few times per quarter. You will work weekends, unpaid, if you take any small measure of pride in sending out quality work. Unless you have a group of friends within the Office, don't expect any help on any issue. Generally, you are expected to be producing work even when using the restroom or walking to training/meeting. You are not expected to produce during the actual training/meeting.

    - "Quality" is a euphemism for production. No definition of what quality is even though it is a major factor in your yearly review.

    - No vision. There are many ways management could improve quality and maintain the current work rate. Management has no desire to change a system that has changed once (examiners were granted an additional 2.5 examining hours per case) since the 1970s.

    - No protections. Expect to get screamed at, insulted, and lied to if you don't immediately allow every application. Don't expect management to care. Theoretically, you are here to grant inventors patents and protect other inventors from overly broad patents. Management should recognize this and protect examiners from overzealous stakeholders. In reality, management caves to whatever the current stakeholder demands.

    - Poor Management. All promotions are based on production, regardless of the ability to manage people. If you are good at production, you can become a SPE (supervisory patent examiner). If you are good at squeezing production out of your examiners, you can work your way up to Director. I work most weekends in order to send out what I view as quality work. As other have mentioned, your success is going to hinge on your SPE. I'd say your shot at a good (meaning they won't tank your chance at a career) SPE is 50/50. Additionally, management knows best with regards to everything. Never expect your opinion or suggestion to be considered let alone valued.


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. Helpful (7)

    "Primary Patent Examiner"

    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

    Pros

    Flexibilty, Average Salary, Less Politics

    Cons

    Huge workload, Constant Pressure, Not respectful to employee

    Advice to Management

    Treat your employee nicer


  6. Helpful (4)

    "FANTASTIC EMPLOYER"

    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 10 years)

    Pros

    -High salary (I make 180k/yr as Primary)
    -Amazing benefits (Worth over 40k/yr)
    -Tons of opportunity in various departments
    -Ridiculously amazing family life
     -Easy to drop off/pick up kids from school EVERYDAY
     -Multiple family vacations per year
     -Easy to BBQ on weekdays!!!!! <------
    -Respect and reputation naturally grow for hardworkes
    -Slackers easily identifiable and avoidable
    -Truly love your job and it will love you back harder

    Cons

    -Got to know your stuff (work super hard first 2 years)
    -Yes some unfair managers, but if you are a quality employee NO ONE can touch you
    -No free snacks :(

    Advice to Management

    Keep it up bosses!


  7. "Flexible and Interesting"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

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

    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


  8. Helpful (3)

    "Largely positive experience"

    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
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    - As a primary patent examiner you enjoy near-complete autonomy
    - Exceedingly high quality of life
    - Many career development oppurtunities
    - Great telework oppurtunities
    - On site gym, daycare
    - Tax-deferred Parking Payment Plan
    - Potential for great bonuses

    Cons

    - Over the long term the job is monotonous
    - Lack of quality in English language ability of new-hires is concerning, especially if you are tasked with mentoring one of these individuals
    - Autonomy/telework also brings less interaction with colleagues

    Advice to Management

    Consider requiring new hires to pass a writing test evidencing there English language writing abilities.


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Primary Patent Examiner"

    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

    Good work life balance, good salary and benefits. These benefits can be worth even more if you work in less expensive areas of the country. Once you are a primary examiner you manage your work-flow yourself. The production requirements are achievable and bonuses are given for exceeding those requirements.

    Cons

    Patent Examining can be a very dry subject and tedious at times. You may get switched to examine patents that aren't in your focus area. If you work at home it can be very lonely. Even if you work at the Office you may not talk to many people.

    Advice to Management

    More opportunities for advancement for Primary Examiners. Make senior examiner positions easier to get. Many people apply for SPE positions for increased salary not because they want to be a SPE. Giving an outlet for such as senior patent examiner will also improve the SPE candidates you get. Speed up appeals at the PTAB. It can take over 2 years to get an appeal back from the PTAB this limits feedback to Examiners on whether rejections are being formulated correct or not.


  10. Helpful (4)

    "It's a Job"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Primary 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 10 years)

    Pros

    If you can't do anything else, this is the place for you. It's done indoors, so there is no need to worry about the weather.

    Cons

    If you can do anything else, this is not the place for you. You are really just reading and analyzing other peoples technical achievements and it requires almost no creativity to do the job.

    Advice to Management

    The management is great- they do the best they can to make a difficult job easier.


  11. Helpful (1)

    "Perfect job for Me"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Primary Patent Examiner in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Telecommuting, flexible hours, independent work flow, noncompetitive promotions, paid overtime, casual dress code

    Cons

    Max base salary for federal employee is capped at $157000