US Patent and Trademark Office Reviews in Washington, DC | Glassdoor

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US Patent and Trademark Office Washington DC Reviews

Updated January 17, 2018
274 reviews

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Washington, DC Area

274 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Interesting work and a very good group of people to work with; excellent benefits with an amazing work/life balance; very good work from home program (in 66 reviews)

  • Flexible work schedule is a pro (in 48 reviews)

Cons
  • Two strong issues stand out: your ability to succeed it based on your own merits but also is seated in your ability to meet production requirements (in 29 reviews)

  • Lots of stress to meet production (in 17 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (3)

    "Trademark examiner"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Attorney-advisor, Trademarks in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Attorney-advisor, Trademarks in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    - Full-time telework from anywhere in the country
    - Great federal employee benefits and job security

    Cons

    - Less growth opportunity once you work from home full-time, though options still exist


  2. Helpful (24)

    "It's a legal, not an engineering job. And it's extremely difficult even for a lawyer."

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    - If you are considering or already in the patent law field, this position affords the best possible experience. Patent prosecutors (lawyers) who have not been examiners likely malpractice their entire lives.
    - Flexibility, pays better than most federal positions, possibility of teleworking
    - Dream job for the introvert engineer who hates other humans
    - It is *possible* for everything to work out and for you to work from home and make $150k until retirement

    Cons

    - I have been with the office almost 2 years and am looking at the likelihood of being fired because of production issues which is solely because of the way my art unit is managed. You earn the most production credit when cases are allowed and do the most work when you are forced to battle the Applicant and his lawyer through rounds and rounds of prosecution. 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.
    - Uneven application of expectations. Some people who came in the same time I did work 20 hours a week and spend all their time socializing. An examination of their dockets reveals a plethora of first action allowances or indication of allowable subject matter (only formal issues remain), which likely takes an hour to search and write up. They have the luxury of working overtime (with extra pay), accumulating bonuses, working from home, and rapid promotion. In the meantime I work nights and weekends every week. My average week is 60 hours, which still may not be good enough.
    - Poor perception of examiner work ethic. Many examiners are under extreme production pressure and churn out lousy work; the office is being investigated by the Inspector General for time fraud because primary examiners sign their own cases and have virtually no oversight. If you want a job on the outside, do not stay too long. Heaven forbid if you are fired - try explaining that to employers who already think y'all are a bunch of lazy punks.
    - Nonexistent internal mechanisms to resolve the above issues. Do not expect that anyone would care about your predicament. Bad managers have been in place for years because of the exclusive club they are in, and they protect each other. The union is of limited assistance. A third of my art unit have left in the span of less than a year.
    - People have said this, but if you wind up with a difficult supervisor, kiss your social/personal life goodbye. I know people who rent hotels near the office so they can work 20 hours a day for a week at a time. You will be burning the morning, afternoon, evening, and midnight oils. You will develop an irrational hatred for Facebook friends with limitless spare time. You will dream of the solace of unemployment. You will want to kick homeless people.
    - The only career path upon leaving the PTO is patent law. You might be able to get a patent engineer-type of position with a company, but it will be a downgrade. Because the majority of new applications are low quality, you will learn how to effectively talk about technology but nothing about how to actually implement it. This job teaches engineers how to practice patent law, and it is not engineering experience.

    Advice to Management

    - Supervisors should be put on rotation so expectations are distributed evenly. They should be trained on how to actually supervise. Evaluate them on their performance and make the data internally known.
    - The law requires a reasonable examination, not a perfect examination. If I do my job perfectly, nobody would ever get a patent.
    - Find ways to deal with Applicants who game the system by submitting pointless, voluminous, and error-filled amendments designed to pester the examiner into an allowance.
    - The IG is not king. It is extremely cynical for the office to respond to every little allegation of claimed hours not worked, but ignore the massive amounts of in/voluntary overtime examiners put in.
    - Quality really only matters upon allowance (when a bad patent will be issued). Is it really necessary to insist on quality when the application stands rejected anyway?
    - So many other things... but I have to get back to work. :'(

  3. Helpful (7)

    "Worst Management I Have Ever Worked For/Unethical"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

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

    Pros

    Bonuses
    Pay
    Education benefits (patents only)
    Telework (patents only)

    Cons

    Management
    Desperate treatment - Parents gets all the best benefits like hoteling.
    Regularly violates regs (don't take my word for it just Google USPTO IG audit or read the Washington Post)
    Ladder promotions often get held back even or employees receiving excellent performance ratings (the highest) (my division only, I don't know outside of my division) (hence, unethical in the heading)

    Advice to Management

    Listen! Our division regularly rates management very poorly in the employee view point survey. Year in and year out they don't address problem managers. This year instead of doing anything our C suite level manager lectured our division on always being "last" (give the worst ratings) and that we (the employees) need to communicate better then procees to ignore the survey and other communication. Most acrimonious work environment I have experienced in my career.


  4. Helpful (8)

    "Patent Examiner"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Former Employee - Junior Patent Examiner in Alexandria, VA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Learn patent application process and related laws.

    Cons

    Must meet production quotas. Shared a windowless room with a pig colleague. The supervisor was tele-work 4 days a week. The only customers were patent attorney who always argue legal jargon, not the invention. The organization is superficial with lots of wastes and abuses regarding time sheet reporting.


  5. "Great place"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    Great pay, flexible hours, rewarding work

    Cons

    perception of being a govt employee


  6. Helpful (3)

    "clear expectations"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Washington, DC
    Current Employee - Patent Examiner in Washington, DC
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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

    Pros

    The job is production-based, so expectations are very clear. Reports are available constantly, so there are no surprises at review time. The telework program is a nice benefit.

    Cons

    It can be hard to be "the bad guy" all the time, and to have an adversarial relationship with applicants. The agency is very reactive, and seems to constantly have some new program or training, or requirement every few months. We've recently gotten a fair bit of bad press, which is a blow to morale. Some people need more management/guidance than what is available. For attorneys, the pay scale can be frustrating if compared to practice.

    Advice to Management

    Adjust the BD (production requirement, "quota") to accurately reflect the current state of the art. Do more "good PR" to educate people about how we work, and how much we accomplish with limited resources.


  7. "Summer Intern"

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

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

    Pros

    This a very friendly and fun place to intern. Everyone inner was super nice and helpful and always willing to take some time and discuss what you wanted and how to tailor the internship to your goals.

    Cons

    Sometimes the work could be a little slow especially if you end up with a department you are not familiar with. There is also a lot you need to learn quick (acronymns, different employee positions/duties, etc).

    Advice to Management

    Management could do a better job of being available. It can sometimes take a while to get to meet and talk to some of the upper level employees.

  8. Helpful (13)

    "Great benefits; not so much social interaction"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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 (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Great flexibility. I was able to take the days I wanted off. Nice people.

    Cons

    My SPE was very nice. He tried to be helpful, but it wasn't the concrete help I really needed to work on office actions (document explaining to patent applicants whether this is or isn't patentable). He would tell me that the patent application isn't original so there's definitely prior art out there. And I would search and search endlessly trying to find that art. I would go back and tell him that I wasn't able to find anything good, but he would reassure me that there was and I need to search harder. Days I've spent digging through the database but end up with nothing. I felt the job wasn't for me so I left the job after 10 months. One day out of curiosity, I've looked up my old applications on Google Patents to see if they became patents. And a lot of them did with the same claims intact. My primary examiner was the one that allowed the applications. So that was pretty frustrating being told that they were not patents when they ended up being so. I believe having a good SPE and a good primary is key to this job.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Good experience so far"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - IT Specialist (InfoSEC) in Alexandria, VA
    Current Employee - IT Specialist (InfoSEC) in Alexandria, VA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    I haven't been working at USPTO long enough to leave a comprehensive review. However, so far its been a positive experience. I will leave a more detailed review later.

    Cons

    Slightly political environment that needs to be navigated through. No telecommute at the moment for my position. From what I hear the patent examiners do have quotas they have to meet every 2 week cycle.

    Advice to Management

    No complaints so far, but I will update this review at a later date.


  10. "Examiner"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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!


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