US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews in Virginia | Glassdoor

US Patent and Trademark Office Virginia Reviews

Updated January 3, 2017
34 reviews

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Virginia

2.0
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Michelle Lee
1 Rating

34 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. Helpful (3)

    "Love or Hate"

    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
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Salary is amazing since living in VA, DC or MD could be really expensive. Pension is good. TSP is alright since they only match 5%. Health Benefits are not that great since it is expensive for the area. Flexible hours, telework and hoteling available after reaching GS-9 for TW and GS-12 for hoteling.

    Cons

    Make sure that you like the job since after 3 or more years it is going to be really hard to find a job in the private sector or moving to a different agency. You will have to take a crazy pay-cut and start from zero somewhere else. Production could be tedious and hard depending on your supervisor. You have people that don't understand the job that well but they sign their own stuff so nobody can say anything about it. No technical skills will be added to your resume other than dealing with attorneys and IP.

    Advice to Management

    Standarization for all the managers


  2. 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.


  3. 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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  5. Helpful (1)

    ""Good Experience""

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Former Employee - Financial Clerk II (Contractor) in Arlington, VA
    Former Employee - Financial Clerk II (Contractor) in Arlington, VA

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

    Pros

    Gain a lot of experience

    Cons

    Government employees treated contractors like step-children


  6. Helpful (3)

    "Junior Patent Examiner"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • 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
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Flexible Schedule, Good Telework Program, Semi-Autonomous work

    Cons

    Arbitrary Production Requirements, which results in constant work pressure to produce and high emphasis on production vs. quality.
    Very repetitive work


  7. Helpful (18)

    "Fostering innovation...sometimes"

    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
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    If you end up with the good fortune of 1) having a sane supervisor 2) in an art you are familiar with and is not too broad you can make this a wonderful job. I say job because it is certainly not something 99% of people will ever be passionate about, but the"job" offers an opportunity to be passionate about your family and other interests if you're lucky enough to survive until primary (once again purely dependent on supervisor). Can be flexible for some but not all. While they're are some terrible examiners and supervisors, the opposite is also true. A great number of incredibly bright and caring examiners are in the corps, but unfortunately all that matters is your numerical value in terms of production. Nice campus.

    Cons

    You feel like cattle because that's what you are while working here. Management is inconsistent, many managers and examiners have extremely poor English language skills. This is a huge problem when the basis of your job is the subtle interpretation of English words and sentence construction. Upper management pushes "quality" but everyone knows that only means production. If quality were really a concern they would have altered their hiring and promotion practices. The folks who lose out are applicants and those who pay your salary, which I personally have guilt about. Also 1/2 of managers and directors have no management or people skills and only follow rules dictated from above. Having come from private industry it is astonishing how such folks who's only professional experience for the most part has been sitting in front of a computer alone pouring over documents all day for 6-10 years are trusted with the careers and lives of subordinates. It's a real eye opener into the inefficiencies of government service. With that said, I plan on biting my tongue, nodding my head (or turning it downwards upon eye contact) for the foreseeable future so I can be at home for my family and I hold no hope ever to happy about my job even though my "quality" is sky high.


  8. Helpful (5)

    "Nice place to work, if you can deal with extreme isolation"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Woodbridge, VA
    Former Employee - Patent Examiner in Woodbridge, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

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

    Pros

    Nice amenities and work environment

    Cons

    You will be worked to the bone the first few years. Production level is uneven (and arguably unfair) between teams/art units. If you come here fresh out college, be aware that most places won't count this as "industry experience" if you later go looking for a different job. However, I believe that this job is easier for fresh college grads, as they do not have as much to "unlearn" in order to be successful examiner.

    Advice to Management

    More leeway should be given to those who, while they have not reached production level, are clearly heading in that direction.


  9. Helpful (7)

    "Not what I expected"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA

    Pros

    Government benefits. Good jobs for introverts and people that like to work with flexibility of time. Nice campus in Alexandria.

    Cons

    Intellectual sweat shop. Production based every two weeks. Depends on your supervisor and technical art as to whether this will be a good job.


  10. Helpful (10)

    "Good if you want the benefits and can tolerate the work"

    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

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

    Pros

    Good compensation
    Objective merit based advancements and rewards
    Good work schedule flexibility
    Opportunities for telwork

    Cons

    Monotonous highly procedural work and the work volume is high
    Work is solitary in nature and tends to be isolating
    Work experience is highly dependent on supervisor and art unit
    Considerable turn over prior to the GS-14 level
    It's not a good match for most people and I would not recommend it as an occupation to any of my friends or acquaintances.


  11. Helpful (15)

    "It's not as good as it looks...."

    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 (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Dress flexibility, few meetings, and job security

    Cons

    Minimum interaction with people, Alexandria, VA is a expensive place to live have to commute, have to wait to long to teleworking if you can reach production level, ridiculous production requirements, working long hours including weekends, tedious work for engineers. Came here from a good company in the private sector because all the good things some people says but it's not what it seems. My best advice to anyone is if you don't have anything to loose you can try it otherwise DON'T leave a good work and be at risk the first year to get fired because didn't meet production requirements people this is not easy for some groups specially when your supervisor is not supportive. The attrition ratio is more that 50% NEVER seen something like this in my life and I'm sure this is unique in the federal government!

    Advice to Management

    Lower production requirements not necessarily because some people do it everyone can do it, this is an error to think this way, change first year training approach more practice than theory, lower teleworking requirements.



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