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 2008. 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 as new systems are deployed and existing systems are enhanced. 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 with the Patent and Trademark organizations 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 2008, the USPTO continued to expand training opportunities by developing additional computer-based training and instructional videos.
PATENT EXAMINER TRAINING
|U.S. Patent Training Academy Mandatory training for first year
Training in the Academy
This Program provides training for new examiners in Legal, Procedural, Automation, Life Skills, Technical, and Professional Development. Participants attend an eight-month training curriculum. Each class is composed of up to 160 new examiners, starting at specific dates during the year. The training is delivered in large group lectures or a small group workshop. The class is then split into groups of approximately 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.
Training in the Academy includes the legal and procedural training, plus enhanced instruction in areas such as: Classification Systems, Searching (classification, text), Claim Interpretation, Advanced Text Searching, Writing an Effective Examiner’s Answer, Appeal Procedure and Practice (Appeal Conference & Pre-Conference; Prevent Administrative Remand).
Technical training in the Academy encompasses: Introduction to examining applications in specific areas of technology, the current state of specific technologies, ongoing technology topics, etc.
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.
The Academy provides new examiners training in life skills such as: time management, physical security, ethics, stress management, balancing quality and production, professionalism, balancing work and personal life, diversity training, dealing with conflict and difficult situations, and benefits and financial planning basics.
- Individual Development Plan
The Academy training program includes creating an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for each examiner. The IDP is composed of formal training courses, development assignments, and on-the-job training. The IDP is designed to assist the examiner from day one, through the first 24 months of employment. When the examiner graduates from the Academy, and is transferred to a Technology Center, the IDP will continue to enable the examiner to acquire the competencies essential to perform assigned duties and to prepare for further development.
|Programs for all Examiners
- Continuing Education
Continuing education courses are for patent examiners. Courses include: Federal Circuit Court 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
This is a voluntary program established to provide reimbursement for additional legal training.
- Non-Duty Technical Training Program
This is a voluntary program established to provide reimbursement for additional technical training.
- 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.
- Automation Training
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.
TRADEMARK EXAMINING ATTORNEY TRAINING
In FY 2008 in the Trademark organization, data gathered from the results of quality reviews were analyzed and used to prepare the content of on-line e-learning training materials for trademark examining attorneys. Fourteen 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
- Nice Agreement 9th Ed. – Changes Effected
- Amendments to Color Features of Marks
- Examination Procedures for Drawings that Contain Black, White, or Gray
- Marks that Identify Authors, Artists, and Titles of Creative Works
- Representing an Applicant or Registrant Before the USPTO
Nine 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
- Guidelines For Examining Specimens
- Examples of Excellent Actions Regarding the Examination of Specimens
Five issues of a multi-issue examination reminders newsletter have been developed and released.