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   Any Canadian Patent Examiners out there?
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   Author  Topic: Any Canadian Patent Examiners out there?  (Read 20082 times)
S._Seaborn
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Any Canadian Patent Examiners out there?
« on: Dec 5th, 2006, 11:07am »
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Hello all,
 
I am currently in grad school (Biochemistry) and was considering applying to the CIPO for a job as a Biotech Patent Examiner. I am new to this forum but I have read numerous posts from people that are currently working for the USPTO. I would like to hear from people that have worked for (or are currently working at) the Canadian IP Office about their experience there. Do you like our job? What are the highs and lows? Does anyone go from being a patent agent to an examiner and vice versa?
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chuckles
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Posts: 16
Re: Any Canadian Patent Examiners out there?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 8th, 2006, 5:12pm »
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I'm not an examiner, but since you're not getting any replies, I'll tell you what I know about the market.
 
With a masters in biochem, you're not super competitive as a patent agent. The market is glutted with life sciences people and many of the patent agent trainees hired are PhDs. You're also competing against science grads at all levels with a law degree. Therefore, if you can land an examiner position, you will really stand out if you later apply for a patent agent job with a firm. In your position, I would certaintly apply for the examiner job - you have nothing to lose.
 
If you try to go the patent agent route right away, try to get your registered patent agent certification as soon as you can. The exam is very tough and passing it will also help your chances of getting an entry level job.
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LJP
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Posts: 48
Re: Any Canadian Patent Examiners out there?
« Reply #2 on: Dec 13th, 2006, 9:54am »
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I am an examiner at CIPO (Organic Chem, PhD) and I have to agree with chuckles. Getting into IP at a firm will be very difficult without a PhD or LLB.
 
The minimum degree for a Biotech Examiner position is a Masters, although a lot of the new hires have PhDs.
 
To answer you questions,
Yes I like my job.
Highs.   The hours are great. I work 7:30 to 3:30 5 days a week, home by 4:00. After 2 year you can work 1 day a week at home and 2 days a week after 3 years. This is the only time you ever have to take work home.  
Lows.   Although the pay and benefits are good, they are not great. You can make much more working at a firm or in research although the benefits may not be as good.
 
As for the job, it can get monotonous, but so can most jobs. The job involves a lot of reading and computer searching. Very little interaction with other examiners. (I hope you like ugly green cubicles.)  Career advancement may be a problem. In the last 4-5 years CIPO has went from ~70 examiners to over 300. That will put you low on seniority (and in government that can be a problem). Even with out the being behind the hiring bubble there are not many opportunities for advancement, from examiner you can become a senior examiner then section head. There are a few positions on the patent appeal board as well as Div. Chief but that is about it. This probably accounts for at least a portion of the turn over since people with advanced degrees tend to be more ambitious.
 
Some examiners do become agents. There are also a number of examiners who write and pass the agent test and continue to work as examiners. As chuckles stated, being a registered patent agent with examination experience may open doors to law firms.
 
Personally, I have considered writing the agent test and applying to law firms in the area, but, because of the flexibility of hours, work load and having young children at home I decided to wait a few years.
 
Over all, I would recommend applying. In fact, I have recommended the job to a number of friends, one of which works here and two who have been called in for interviews.
« Last Edit: Dec 13th, 2006, 9:57am by LJP » IP Logged
AG
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Re: Any Canadian Patent Examiners out there?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 13th, 2006, 10:32am »
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Hi, LJP,
 
Glad to see your opion about patent examiners. In fact, I am studying Ms.Degree in organic and will graduate next year. I am interested in being a patent examiner. Can I ask you what requirements they need from the candidate? Do you have to know some knowledge about patent?  Thanks for your repsonse.
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LJP
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Posts: 48
Re: Any Canadian Patent Examiners out there?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 14th, 2006, 8:09am »
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The first step of the hiring process is a written test. The test is composed of 3 parts (or at least it was when I wrote it a few years ago). One part tests your ability to write, the second tests your ability to comprehend and summarize technical material and the third tests knowledge of patents. You must pass all three parts of the test to be called for an interview.  
 
The patent knowledge portion of the test is very basic. All the answers to the test can be found on the CIPO web page. Applicants are told this when they are notified that the they have been selected to write the test.
 
The only requirements to apply are the appropriate degree (see web page) and Canadian citizenship. Writing skill, comprehension and reasoning are required but are tested for during the hiring process.
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