OPM Approves Patent Professionals Pay Increase

To Improve Flexibility in Recruiting and Retaining Highly-Skilled Professionals
June 1, 2001
Press Release #01-20

Contact (media inquiries only):
Richard Maulsby

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has approved a request for a special pay scale by the Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for patent examiner and patent examiner-related positions.

This agreement provides the USPTO with the flexibility necessary to recruit highly skilled professionals and retain experienced employees who will help the agency move forward towards enhancing customer service and quality.

"This is a significant day for the USPTO and our employees," declared Nicholas Godici, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Acting Director of the USPTO. "In cooperation with POPA, we reached an agreement on a number of significant long-standing issues that will greatly improve quality and give us better tools to recruit and retain a highly skilled patent workforce. We are extremely gratified by OPM's action and greatly appreciate the support we have received on this matter from the Bush administration and Congress."

Ron Stern, president of POPA also hailed the agreement. "I believe this is a win-win-win conclusion. Patent professionals will benefit, the USPTO will benefit and patent applicants will benefit. In addition, our new working relationship with management will provide a solid basis for jointly solving problems."

This special pay scale, which affects about 3,500 employees and increases pay by about 10 percent for those approved positions, is part of a larger agreement between the USPTO and the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA). Along with the special pay scale, the agreement also includes moving to an electronic environment by the phased elimination of most of the paper search files, improving automation tools, establishing a work-at-home pilot, and adding a customer service element to employees' performance plans.

USPTO administers patent and trademark laws protecting intellectual property and rewarding individual innovation. Intellectual property is a potent force in the competitive free enterprise system. By protecting intellectual endeavors and encouraging technological progress, USPTO seeks to preserve the United States' technological edge, which is a key to our current and future competitiveness. The USPTO also disseminates patent and trademark information that promotes an understanding of intellectual property protection and facilitates the development and sharing of new technologies worldwide.

Over six million patents have been issued since the first patent in 1790 and more than 2.3 million trademarks have been registered since the first in 1870. Last year the USPTO issued 182,223 patents and registered 127,794 trademarks