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The Nature of the Training Provided to USPTO Examiners

Achieving organizational excellence demands a high performance workforce that delivers high quality work products and provides customer service excellence. Training is a critical component in achieving consistently high quality products and services.

Patent examiners and Trademark examining attorneys received extensive legal, technical and automation training in FY 2006. The USPTO has a comprehensive training program for new patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys, embedding a well-established curriculum including initial legal training, automation training and training in examination practice and procedure. Automation training is provided to all examiners on an as-needed basis; more than 260 automation classes were conducted on Patent examination tools. New technology-specific legal and technical training was conducted throughout the examining operations. This specific training either focuses on practices particular to a technology or was developed to address training needs identified through Patent and Trademark examination reviews or staff requests.

The USPTO training staff works one-on-one with the Patent and Trademark business units to address specific training concerns and serve as consultants to design specific internal programs to fit the education needs of each business unit. Training is reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis to ensure it is up-to-date and that coursework reflects developments and changes that have taken place in the industry. In FY 2006, the USPTO continued to expand training opportunities by developing additional computer based training and instructional videos.

Reviewers continue to gather data regarding dozens of examination issues on each file they review. The Office developed a database for the management of review findings that will provide managers with ready access to review results to better identify training needs and assist individual examiners in gaining enhanced skills and improving quality.

PATENT EXAMINER TRAINING
Procedural Training – Mandatory for all first year examiners

Patent Examiner Initial Training and Introduction to Practice and Procedures

Standardized training is provided to new patent examiners to teach them the basic skills and knowledge of the patent process, practices, and procedures such that they will be able to successfully examine a patent application. Examiners will also be able to prepare an initial report on what is the claimed, as well as the disclosed invention contained in the application to facilitate a supervisor’s prior art search. The number of courses offered each year is based on the projected number of new examiners entering the Patent organization.

Legal Training  – Mandatory for all first year examiners

Practice and Procedures Lectures covering the following topics:

  • "Novelty" Requirements
  • "Non-Obviousness" Requirements
  • "Utility" Requirements
  • Restriction Practice
  • Unity of Invention
  • Double Patenting
  • Allowance and Issue
  • Appeals
New U.S. Patent Training Academy – Mandatory training for first year examiners

Training in the Academy

In 2006, the USPTO piloted an enhanced training and education program for new examiners. Participants attend eight consecutive months of training in a university style environment. Classes of up to 128 new examiners, starting at specific times during the year, begin with large group lectures. The class is then split into groups of 16 examiners for labs, small group discussions, and tailored training in their specific fields of study. Examiners have access to tutors, library and search assistance, and automation guidance. In addition to extensive lecture and lab training, attendees spend considerable time learning their jobs through the examination of real patent applications in a setting that provides immediate assistance when needed.

The training is structured to provide new examiners with advanced entry-level competencies, as well as providing instruction in a variety of skills that will produce well-rounded, motivated employees.

Patent Training Academy
Legal and procedural training
Training in the Academy includes the legal and procedural training noted above, plus enhanced instruction in areas such as: Classification Systems, Searching (classification, text), Understanding legal documents and how attorneys write applications and claims, Advanced Claim Interpretation, Advanced Text Searching, Legal Research and Analysis, Quality Reviews, Legal Writing, Writing an Effective Examiner’s Answer, Appellant Procedure and Practice (Appeal Conference & Pre-Conference; Prevent Administrative Remand).
Patent Training Academy
Automation
Examiners attending the Academy receive extensive training in automation, including classes in more than a dozen specialized applications used in patent examination, multiple search systems, databases, and commonly used office applications.
Patent Training Academy
Life Skills
The Academy provides new examiners training in life skills such as: time management, physical security, ethics, stress management, balancing quality, production, and professionalism, balancing work and personal life, diversity training, dealing with conflict and difficult situations, and financial planning basics.
Patent Training Academy
Professional Development
The Academy training program includes instruction in: creating an Individual Development Plan, availability of on-going training opportunities, and career advancement. Training in communications skills, such as concise writing, developing listening skills, effective communications, customer service skills, remote communication, and team building is also provided.
Patent Training Academy
Technology Basics
Technical training in the Academy encompasses: Introduction to examining applications in specific areas of technology, the current state of specific technologies, technical writing, ongoing technology topics, etc.
Continuing Education
Courses are for students from all Technology Centers (TC), some taught by personnel within the TC’s, some modified to include TC specific examples. Courses include: Federal Circuit Decisions Affecting USPTO Practice - Key Cases of the Past Year and mastery of updated automation tools.
Legal Training
TC Level courses taught by TC personnel, some developed within the TC’s. Examples include: 101 Training, 102/103 Training, Obviousness Type Double Patenting, Patent Law & Evidence, Non-Duty Legal Studies program.
Examiner Technical Training
(Technology Center Focused)
Includes attendance at technology fairs; seminars and lectures in the fields of biotechnology, computer software and hardware technology, semiconductors, communication technology, and knowledge management.
Non-Duty Technical Training Program
Examples: Mathematical Methods for Physics
Automation Training

All first year examiners are provided mandatory initial automation training. Instruction includes IFW tools: IFW for examiners “eDAN”, IFW for technical support staff “MADRAS”, IFW for coordinating committee, IFW messaging for supervisory patent examiners, IFW refresher. Other automation training: Classification Data System Desktop Training, ChemDraw, Examiner Automated Search System (EAST) 1.3: New Features, EAST and Bibliographic Retrieval System: The Fundamentals, Office Action Correspondence System (OACS) 1.3: New Features, OACS Basics, OACS for Non-Typists, OACS: Creating Personal Forms, Chemical Searching for Non-chemists, West: Refresher, Microsoft® PowerPoint, Microsoft® Outlook, Overview of PALMExpo.

TC-Focused Classes: EAST Databases, EAST: Automated Searching for Design Examiners, EAST and Optical Character Recognition, OACS Basics for Design Examiners, Non-Patent Literature Web Resources in Your Art Area, Classification and Security Review, Obviousness Type Double Patenting, Means Plus Function Claims (35 USC § 112).

Management Training
Review of Recent Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Decisions Management Skills workshop.
Technical Support and
Administrative Staff Training
In 2006, the USPTO initiated the learning opportunities program, providing over 2,000 free computer based courses to all patents technical support and administrative staff. The program also provides a series of lectures to expand understanding of the role of IT in the patent examination process.

 

TRADEMARK EXAMINING ATTORNEY TRAINING

In FY 2006, the Trademark organization gathered data from the results of quality reviews, analyzed, and used them to prepare the content of online e-learning training materials for trademark examining attorneys. Ten e-learning modules were developed and released covering the following list of topics.

  • Concurrent User Applications
  • Section 2(d) - Likelihood of Confusion - Weak and Diluted Marks
  • Section 2(a) - Scandalous and Disparaging Marks
  • Amendments to Goods and Services - Are They Within The Scope?
  • Section 2(d) - Likelihood of Confusion - Relatedness of Goods and Services: A General Framework
  • Section 2(d) - Likelihood of Confusion - Relatedness of Goods and Services: Evidence
  • Section 2(d) - Likelihood of Confusion - Relatedness of Goods and Services: Food and Beverages Goods and Services
  • Varietal and Cultivar Names
  • Office of Petitions

Seven examination tips have been developed and released.

  • Consent to Register a Mark Identifying a Particular Living Individual
  • TEAS Allegations of Use
  • Marks Containing the Term “Your” in Combination with Descriptive or Generic Matter
  • Claiming Prior Registrations
  • When is the Term “Official” Considered Descriptive?
  • Foreign Agents and Attorneys
  • Standard Character Marks

Two issues of a multi-issue examination reminders newsletter have been developed and released.

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Last Modified: 11/3/2009 5:49:40 PM