Patent examiner: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A patent examiner or patent clerk[1] is an employee, usually a civil servant, working at a patent office. Major employers of patent examiners are the European Patent Office (EPO), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the Japan Patent Office.



Patent examiners review patent applications to determine whether the claimed invention should be granted a patent. The work of a patent examiner usually includes searching patents and scientific literature databases for prior art, and examining patent applications substantively by examining whether the claimed invention meets the patentability requirements such as novelty, "inventive step" or "non-obviousness", "industrial application" (or "utility") and sufficiency of disclosure.

On April 13, 2007, a "Coalition of Patent Examiner Representatives" expressed concern that

in many patent offices, the pressures on examiners to produce and methods of allocating work have reduced the capacity of examiners to provide the quality of examination the peoples of the world deserve [and that] the combined pressures of higher productivity demands, increasingly complex patent applications and an ever-expanding body of relevant patent and non-patent literature have reached such a level that, unless serious measures are taken, meaningful protection of intellectual property throughout the world may, itself, become history.[2]

Patent examiners by office


European Patent Office

Patent examiners at the European Patent Office (EPO) are exempted from work- and residence-permit procedures, but since most of EPC contracting states are members of the European Union, the exemption is usually not an issue.

The examiners examine patent applications in three official languages, English language, French language, and German language. Examiners search databases, conduct document analysis and patent communications, and judge validity of patents. Examiners may be represented by trade unions, FFPE-EPO and SUEPO.

To work as an examiner, a person must meet certain minimum requirements:

  • EPO member state nationality;
  • degree in engineering or in science;
  • good knowledge of two languages out of German, English and French.

Some examiners have work experience in industry, but such experience is not required.[3]

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Patent examiners at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) prosecute applications for patents. Examiners make determinations based on federal codes, rules, and judicial precedents. These determinations are appealable through the U.S. Courts. An appeal of these determinations is three steps away from the U.S. Supreme Court. Responsibilities for a patent examiner at the USPTO include:

  • reviewing patent applications to determine if they comply with basic format, rules and legal requirements;
  • determining the scope of the invention claimed by the inventor;
  • searching for relevant technologies to compare similar prior inventions with the invention claimed in the patent application; and
  • communicating findings as to the patentability of an applicant's invention via a written action to inventors/patent practitioners.
Biweekly Production Report

Examiners are hired at the GS-5, GS-7, GS-9 or GS-11 grade levels[4][5] and are currently eligible for two accelerated promotions after six and twelve months of service when they meet the performance of a new examiner. As of July 2007, new examiners are granted a recruitment bonus of $20,000 to $39,600 spread out over four consecutive years of fully successful service.[6] Subsequent promotions are yearly and noncompetitive up to the GS-12 level, provided satisfactory performance is maintained.

According the USPTO, an examiner is measured entirely by his own performance, without regard to the performance of others.[7] Legal, technical and automation training is provided to examiners at the USPTO. Experienced examiners have an option of working primarily from home through a hoteling program implemented in 2006 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).[8]

To work as an examiner with the USPTO, a person must be a U.S. citizen and hold, at a minimum, a bachelor's degree in one of the physical sciences, life sciences, engineering disciplines, or in computer science.

Notable patent examiners and clerks

Name Birth year Death year Description
Genrich Altshuller[9][10] 1926 1998
Clara Barton[11][12][13] 1821 1912 worked at the United States Patent Office (Currently the USPTO)
Albert Einstein[14] 1879 1955 worked at the Swiss Federal Institute of Intellectual Property
Thomas Jefferson[15] 1743 1826 first patent examiner of the U.S. Patent Office
Thomas P. Jones 1774 1848 engineer and publisher, worked at the US Patent Office
Arthur Paul Pedrick[16] ? 1976 UK Patent Office examiner and, subsequently, prolific inventor
Richard Bissell Prosser 1838 1918 worked at the UK Intellectual Property Office
Johan Vaaler 1866 1910
George Washington 1732 1799

References and notes

  1. ^ The title "patent clerk" is used for instance in Gary Stix, The Patent Clerk's Legacy, Scientific American, September 2004 (an article about Albert Einstein).
  2. ^ Open Letter From a Coalition of Patent Examiner Representatives (To: Mr. Jon Dudas, Director, United States Patent and Trademark Office, Prof. Alain Pompidou, President, European Patent Office, Dr. Jürgen Schade, President, Deutsches Patent- und Markenamt, Mr. David Tobin, Commissioner of Patents, Registrar of Trademarks and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Intellectual Property Office, Dr. Friedrich Rödler, President, Österreichisches Patentamt) - Re: The Future of the Patent System, April 13, 2007.
  3. ^ "Required profile for an EPO patent examiner". European Patent Office (EPO), retrieved on March 30, 2009.
  4. ^ GS-5, GS-7, or GS-9 grade levels are part of the General Schedule employee classification scheme within the US government.
  5. ^ See the examiner salary table as of January 1, 2007
  6. ^ USPTO Recruitment Incentive
  7. ^ "What makes the USPTO a great place to work?", USPTO Patent Examiner Recruitment, United States Patent and Trademark Office, retrieved on June 12, 2006.
  8. ^ USPTO Patent Public Advisory Committee 2007 Annual Report
  9. ^ "TRIZ was invented and structured by Genrich Altshuller, a patent examiner for the Russian navy." in Praveen Gupta, The Six Sigma Performance Handbook: A Statistical Guide to Optimizing Results, McGraw-Hill Professional, 2004, page 278, ISBN 0071437649
  10. ^ "In 1946, a 20-year-old Soviet patent clerk in Russia named Genrich Altshuller..." in Peter Middleton, James Sutton, Lean Software Strategies: proven techniques for managers and developers, Productivity Press, 2005, page 159, ISBN 1563273055
  11. ^ "Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross, held a regular civil service appointment as a patent clerk as early as 1854." in B. Zorina Khan, The Democratization of Invention: patents and copyrights in American economic development, 1790-1920, Cambridge University Press, 2005, page 136, note 25. ISBN 052181135X
  12. ^ "Called the “Angel of the Battlefield,” Clara Barton was a former teacher and patent clerk..." in Alan Axelrod, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Civil War, Alpha Books, 2003, page 147, ISBN 1592571328
  13. ^ "Clara Barton, a former teacher and patent clerk, ..." in Fred D. Cavinder, More Amazing Tales from Indiana, Indiana University Press, 2003, page 79, ISBN 0253216532
  14. ^ Thomas P. Hugues, Einstein, Inventors, and Invention in R. S. (Robert Sonne) Cohen, Mara Beller, Jürgen Renn, Einstein in Context: A Special Issue of Science in Context, Cambridge University Press, 1993, page 25, ISBN 0521448344
  15. ^ Thomas T. Gordon, Arthur S. Cookfair, Patent Fundamentals for Scientists and Engineers, CRC Press, 2000, page 13, ISBN 1566705177
  16. ^ Patenty absurd

See also

External links


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