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   Working for the USPTO
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   Author  Topic: Working for the USPTO  (Read 348245 times)
dead_end
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #745 on: Nov 12th, 2006, 10:11am »
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I've heard that an examiner is kind of a dead-end job... that you can't earn enough to live well in the area and that, w/out a law degree, you'll never get anywhere.  is this true?
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private
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #746 on: Nov 12th, 2006, 12:50pm »
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Here's my two cents after about two months (last of the non-patent academy folks). Going in, I wanted all the numbers on production, but the SPE has enormous influence.  
 
Consider that counts can take anywhere from 10% to 500% of the average time to process. Experienced examiners will find and do the fastest ones first. Some of this is global [factors like lots of complex claims in a relatively new subject], and some of it is what the examiner is familiar with. Every time an examiner leaves, the worst cases get reassigned. The SPE can give them to an advanced person who risks busting production, or to a newbie who will learn valuable lessons, but be challenged to increase production.  
 
Another factor that is skyrocketting in importance is getting time with a primary to talk about your case. Remember hiring a thousand newbies, and so few staying to make primary. The newbies are overloading the primaries, and even if the primaries get other time, they still have deadlines. A lenient/not SPE can ease/derail the learning.
 
As far as turnover - Lots of people get into the job with wierd expectations. I met two people who expected to telecommute 100% after a month (Wrong!). You have to enjoy reading and writing "patent" which is a wierd dialect of legalese. If you have little verbal ability, or if you get frustrated with non-straightforward writing, go elsewhere.  
 
I always wonder what nationwide turnover is for all first jobs.  Young people, grass is greener, etc. I'm older. I got tired of the merger/layoff worries, raises less than cost of living, certifications getting old, jobs with no career path at all, etc. We entry level examiners have dual 21 inch monitors and offices with doors. No travel. Much less schmoozing. These things mean a lot to me.  
 
[personal opinion] I also could not bear to write doomed patent applications for money. Even a touch of that would ruin a job for me. It's like an animal lover becoming a vet only to make money at euthanasia. Anyway, my personal choice is to be on the government side.  
 
So hope that is helpful to someone who is deciding,
Good luck.  
 
 
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guest
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #747 on: Nov 13th, 2006, 11:44am »
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Hi bond007,
just to be clear, did you mean that
1. First 3 months will be a lot of lecture from 7:30 to 5:00 and off on every other Friday
2. After 3 months, you start working on real cases + lecture
3. After 8 months, you can work with the SPE to set your schedule ?
also, there's a lot of test and quiz in these training ?
thanks
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prufrock69
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #748 on: Nov 14th, 2006, 6:58am »
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Potential examiners:  
 
I thought some of you who frequent this thread to decide whether or not to become an examiner might be interested in the perspective of someone who's been at the PTO for a few years. If I read the posts correctly, I believe I had the same, for the lack of a better word, condescending, attitude towards the position: Isn't this a dead-end job? Will I be learning new engineering skills? I'll be doing what??
 
In my opinion, what anyone who is considering a PTO position should keep in mind is that you are making a significant career move into IP and away from traditional engineering in general. This shouldn't be viewed as a 'transitory' type of job; it should be clear the skills you learn and eventually apply here are limited to the IP field. What scares most is that there seems to be only a few positions in this field and feel like they will limit themselves. I think these feelings are warranted. And in that sense, the job is "dead-end" but only to those that don't have the proper perspective and goals.
 
I have found the position and the opportunties extremely rewarding. Let's be clear that the job involves much reading, analysis and then writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. The monotomy of this routine is broken by the diversity of subject matter of the patent applications involved. With all this in mind, the job may not sound too appealing so far. Whats the upside? In my view, after a achieving a certain level of competence, the level of control over your life and even your job is unparalleled. Right now:
1. I can work from home once a week. Also eligible for the full-time teleworking program [called hotelling here].  
2. I have no set schedule. I can work any amount of hours on any day of the week as long as it adds up to 40 at the end of the week. Think about that.  
3. Job security.  
4. Promotion opportunities every year and two bonus opportunties every year.  
5. Laid back atmosphere. Want to hit the gym in the middle of the day? Yoga, cycling, step, and other numerous classes also available throughout the day.  
6. Overtime at time and a half. Most SPEs will cap you at 20 hours a bi-week; some go as high as 50.  
7. For those that care about all-mighty dollar, if you take a drive through the parking garage, you won't believe how many luxury cars you'll see. People are either doing well, or are living in their Beemers.  
8. All this, while attending law-school part-time. A quick aside: for those that endured a rigorous engineering curriculum, balancing work and school won't be too difficult especially with the all the flexibility I talk about above.  
 
In the end, what matters is that you accept the position with eyes wide open. For those, like me, that need more challeges, you'll find that making the move to law school, and eventually a law firm is even more appealling. But thats a topic for another day, eh?  
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Re: Working for the USPTO
« Reply #749 on: Nov 14th, 2006, 7:40am »
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on Nov 14th, 2006, 6:58am, prufrock69 wrote:
Potential examiners:  
 
I thought some of you who frequent this thread to decide whether or not to become an examiner might be interested in the perspective of someone who's been at the PTO for a few years. If I read the posts correctly, I believe I had the same, for the lack of a better word, condescending, attitude towards the position: Isn't this a dead-end job? Will I be learning new engineering skills? I'll be doing what??
 
In my opinion, what anyone who is considering a PTO position should keep in mind is that you are making a significant career move into IP and away from traditional engineering in general. This shouldn't be viewed as a 'transitory' type of job; it should be clear the skills you learn and eventually apply here are limited to the IP field. What scares most is that there seems to be only a few positions in this field and feel like they will limit themselves. I think these feelings are warranted. And in that sense, the job is "dead-end" but only to those that don't have the proper perspective and goals.
 
I have found the position and the opportunties extremely rewarding. Let's be clear that the job involves much reading, analysis and then writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. The monotomy of this routine is broken by the diversity of subject matter of the patent applications involved. With all this in mind, the job may not sound too appealing so far. Whats the upside? In my view, after a achieving a certain level of competence, the level of control over your life and even your job is unparalleled. Right now:
1. I can work from home once a week. Also eligible for the full-time teleworking program [called hotelling here].  
2. I have no set schedule. I can work any amount of hours on any day of the week as long as it adds up to 40 at the end of the week. Think about that.  
3. Job security.  
4. Promotion opportunities every year and two bonus opportunties every year.  
5. Laid back atmosphere. Want to hit the gym in the middle of the day? Yoga, cycling, step, and other numerous classes also available throughout the day.  
6. Overtime at time and a half. Most SPEs will cap you at 20 hours a bi-week; some go as high as 50.  
7. For those that care about all-mighty dollar, if you take a drive through the parking garage, you won't believe how many luxury cars you'll see. People are either doing well, or are living in their Beemers.  
8. All this, while attending law-school part-time. A quick aside: for those that endured a rigorous engineering curriculum, balancing work and school won't be too difficult especially with the all the flexibility I talk about above.  
 
In the end, what matters is that you accept the position with eyes wide open. For those, like me, that need more challeges, you'll find that making the move to law school, and eventually a law firm is even more appealling. But thats a topic for another day, eh?  

 
I have to disagree with much of that post. I think people should pay more attention to the first part of that post then the last. Lets face it, the job is paper-pushing drudgery. The idea that the monotany is broken by the patent applications that you read and their diversity is simply not very accurate. Do you have time to read them fully and understand them? Basically you have to understand maybe one or two concepts that are the real inventive concept and attack that. The workload gets so high that i sure don't have time to think about much else than quickly finding art and getting it off my desk.  
 
Your focus is unfortunately on things that might lure people into the job under false pretenses. It like, "come on over and live the good life and drive a beamer." Anybody can buy a beamer if they make above maybe $50k and want to impress the neighbors. I know LOTS of people at the PTO that drive fancy cars, pay their rent, and have little left at the end of the month. More of a statement about our society when you drive through the parking garage, IMO, but i digress.
 
Quality of life is important (i could argue that living in DC isn't very high quality unless you have a few million...), but the things you point to as important are fairly shallow things and maybe shouldn't be used to justify throwing away an engineering degree (yep, that's basically what you are doing in terms of going back into a traditional engineering job) to get into a limited field.
 
BTW: OT is only time and a half at the lowest levels. Capped at gs10/1 until you reach your regular hourly rate - i haven't had time and a half for a while. And working 50 hours of overtime is desirable?
 
I might better understand your appeal to some freedoms at the PTO in terms of hours and other factors, but going to a firm as a suit to really slave away doesn't really jive. Maybe that fits in more with your 50 hours of overtime concept with all the billable hours requirements at a firm.  
 
Yes, accept a PTO position with eyes wide open...
 
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