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Author Topic: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition  (Read 3276 times)

jobxtransition

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Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« on: 12-28-10 at 04:36 pm »

Hi All,

I've been a Patent Agent for about 4 years.

The firm I am currently working for is paying a salary of $65K a year.

I've been with this firm for over 2 years but it doesn't seem like they will be giving out any bonuses or raises.

My only option in making more money is to either look for a different firm that will pay more, but with this job-market, its unlikely I will get more than $65K a year.

On the flip side, I can apply for a Patent Examiner job and get paid around $65K. 

There is also the potential of overtime pay and yearly raises to a certain point if I get a job as a Patent Examiner - not to mention job security.

What are everyone's thoughts on this transition?

Is it worth doing a mind-numbing job at the PTO or is it better to stay-put as a Patent Agent?

Thanks.
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Zing

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Re: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« Reply #1 on: 12-29-10 at 07:42 am »

That sounds awfully low for an agent with 4 years of experience.

If you don't mind me asking, what is your billing rate and how many hours do you bill in a year?
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smgsmc

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Re: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« Reply #2 on: 12-29-10 at 08:27 am »

What part of the country are you in?  Are you in a major metro area? 
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jobxtransition

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Re: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« Reply #3 on: 12-29-10 at 05:31 pm »

I work in a small patent firm in Washington, DC.

I and the other associates at the firm do not bill by the hour.

Rather, the firm charges a fixed fee for responding to office actions, notice of appeals, appeal briefs, etc.

I guess the firm bills their clients a fixed fee because that's what the trend seems to be going towards for patent prosecution.

I honestly feel like I'm being under paid for the quality and amount of work I produce.

This is one of the reasons why I would like to get everyone's insight on whether being a Patent Examiner is better than my current job.

Thanks for the responses.
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ExaminerEsq

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Re: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« Reply #4 on: 12-29-10 at 08:16 pm »

65K seems really low.  The new-hire examiners are starting at either GS7-step 10 ($67,589) or GS9-step 8 ($74,837). 
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Agent_X

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Re: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« Reply #5 on: 12-30-10 at 03:17 am »

I work in a small patent firm in Washington, DC.

I and the other associates at the firm do not bill by the hour.

Rather, the firm charges a fixed fee for responding to office actions, notice of appeals, appeal briefs, etc.

I guess the firm bills their clients a fixed fee because that's what the trend seems to be going towards for patent prosecution.

I honestly feel like I'm being under paid for the quality and amount of work I produce.

This is one of the reasons why I would like to get everyone's insight on whether being a Patent Examiner is better than my current job.

Thanks for the responses.

It depends on what you define as "better" to be honest

You are already in the DC area so moving to the USPTO is not an issue
Pay should be higher
Once you get the hang of things you should also have more free time (competent Examiners are usually done before 80 hours every bi-week)

However, the type of work may not be what you want.  Most of your time is spent searching for art.

The job it what it is...seems like you already know what the variables are
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OMG IP

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Re: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« Reply #6 on: 12-30-10 at 06:07 am »

I, personally, do not think it is "better" to do examination versus substantive prosecution.  However, workign for the federal government is certainly a cush thing these days a.k.a. benefits.  If you wanted to do an ~8 year plan at PTO, you could get your law degree for free.  A resume for a new attorney with 8 years PTO and 4 years agent background certainly wouldn't hurt you.

I do think working at PTO is good experience.

I do not think it is an upgrade of any sort from working as an agent.
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DEBOER IP
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John M. DeBoer

smgsmc

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Re: Patent Agent to Patent Examiner Transition
« Reply #7 on: 12-30-10 at 06:34 am »

I work in a small patent firm in Washington, DC.

I and the other associates at the firm do not bill by the hour.

Rather, the firm charges a fixed fee for responding to office actions, notice of appeals, appeal briefs, etc.

I guess the firm bills their clients a fixed fee because that's what the trend seems to be going towards for patent prosecution.

I honestly feel like I'm being under paid for the quality and amount of work I produce.

This is one of the reasons why I would like to get everyone's insight on whether being a Patent Examiner is better than my current job.

Thanks for the responses.

Follow-up:

(1)  You don't mention new applications.  Does your firm handle those?

(2)  It would appear that your main issue is your low salary, rather than a burning desire to become an Examiner.  It would be worthwhile talking to a recruiter to get a sense of what the going rate in DC is at other firms.  I checked one website.  They have 8 posts for patent agents in DC.  By NYC standards, $65K for a patent agent with 4 yrs experience is really low.  Assuming you have experience in new applications as well as follow on prosecution, you should be in the sweet spot of hiring:  enough experience that you require little hand holding + low billable rates relative to an associate. 

(3)  Unknowns in your case:

(a)  What is your technical background?

(b)  How many hours do you end up working in your current situation?  In evaluating higher $ at another firm, determine whether a lot more hours are required. 
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