US Patent and Trademark Office Employee Reviews | Glassdoor

US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews

Updated February 11, 2017
344 reviews

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344 Employee Reviews

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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. "Examiner"

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

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

    Pros

    Doesnt get any better! This is the best job in the world.

    Cons

    I cannot think of any negatives to this job.

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the great work!


  2. "Patent Examiner Extern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner Intern in Fairfax, VA
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner Intern in Fairfax, VA

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

    Pros

    Lots of freedom to do your own work at your own pace. You also work with a lot of nice people who are willing to help you

    Cons

    The externship is unpaid and the training program is too short for externs.


  3. Helpful (14)

    "Seriously flawed management structure"

    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 3 years)

    Pros

    Special rate salary table, pay is higher than normal GS schedule engineering positions. The telework/ hoteling program allows you to work from home from anywhere in the continuous United States once deemed eligible. Highly flexible work hours.

    Cons

    1. Management structure has no checks & balances. Your success of failure in this office is TOTALLY DEPENDENT on who your assigned supervisor or primary examiner is. This person holds total control over your career. If the person harbors any ill-will for you for any reason, they can simply not sign or delay signing your cases. As a junior examiner your work must be signed by one of these individuals. If it is not signed, you will fail to meet your bi-weekly production and docket management requirements. This will lead you to various warnings and then termination from the federal service. It is purely luck. Some supervisors and primaries are supportive, others look to get rid of examiners who were forced upon them by HR.
    2. Management- supervisory patent examiners are simply patent examiners who have been around long enough and who have high production. They are not screened for leadership abilities and receive little to no management training. Their engineering background explains the social awkwardness of most supervisors and directors. Such individuals can destroy your career.
    3. The production requirements will require you to work much longer than the standard 40 hour work week. You will work late nights and weekends to keep your "numbers" up. If you have a difficult art (department) this can be extremely challenging. People with easier art have a better overall experience in the office as they have less stress.
    4. Benefits such as the hoteling program and dangled in front of you during your probationary year, but the challenges faced by many examiners prevents them from achieving these benefits for many years.
    5. Probationary year is very stressful, only those willing to put in many extra hours will make it. The turnover rate at the Patent office is very high (for the above reasons), the turnover rate for probationary employees approaching the end of their first year at the office is even higher.
    6. Make no mistake, this is not a easy federal job, you have to maintain quantifiable production during your entire career. The required production increases as you increase grades.
    7. After a few years at the office, your job prospects are limited to only intellectual property; as you will have a huge gap in your actual engineering experience. No engineering company will hire you with a resume of only patent examining.

    Advice to Management

    Implement checks and balances to prevent SPEs & Primaries from backlisting examiners (not signing cases or not offering training/ guidance), causing them to receive disciplinary actions. SPEs should be screened for leadership ability and trained in leadership and management. Perhaps rotate SPEs and primaries so that a blacklisted examiner has a chance to redeem themselves with a different set of eyes. Standardize the examination process (perhaps fillable forms rather than typed office actions filled with opinion), eliminate obvious statements from office actions. Give auto-count to GS-11 examiners who need it during the difficult time period between years 1 & 2.


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  5. Helpful (1)

    "Jr Examiner"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends

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

    Pros

    Flexible schedule 5:30 am- 10 pm
    Possibility of overtime and bonuses
    Telework and work from home options are available after one year of work
    Job details ar available

    Cons

    Meeting production is tricky and can be stressful. Unfortunately how successful or unsuccessful in this job is dependent upon who signs off on your work.


  6. Helpful (4)

    "Incredible Flexibility"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends

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

    Pros

    Challenging and rewarding work. As long as you get your work done, nobody cares when you work.

    Cons

    It is difficult to transition to other engineering roles after being at the PTO. It is also a slightly antisocial job.


  7. 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.


  8. Helpful (6)

    "Currently unhappy (3 years in)"

    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 3 years)

    Pros

    Telework, schedule flexibility, performance based promotions

    Cons

    Lately I have become satisfied.
    Some attorneys are very aggressive, unethical, and pushy, to the point of harassment.
    I did not sign up for a tough job, with already lots of stress (production), only to get harassed by unethical attorneys who act like cry-babies.

    Advice to Management

    Office needs to address:
    - very high production requirements.
    -how to tackle the issue of agressive attorneys. It is not fair to us, examiners, to go to work, work hard, only to get verbally harassed by attorneys during interviews, or by the having unreasonable requests of you.


  9. Helpful (7)

    "Patent Examiner"

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

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

    Pros

    Telework, Hotelling program, work from home, flexible schedule, federal holidays, no questions for time off. Accumulate paid leave time each bi-week. Ability to work flexible hours.

    Cons

    Not realistic to take more than a week off for vacation. Demanding schedule regarding amendments and docket workload. More and more emphasis being placed on quality, meetings, more and more work on top of primary focus of searching and writing actions.

    Advice to Management

    pause amendment clocks when Examiners are on leave


  10. 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.


  11. Helpful (4)

    "Not for everyone"

    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
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great people, good benefits, ability to earn a lot of money but will require a lot of work and no life balance.

    Cons

    Stressful, all about production, learning patent law, some supervisor are not supportive

    Advice to Management

    Spend time training SPE how to how be manager



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