USPTO year in review: In March, USPTO transitions 13,000 employees to remote work without missing a beat

After the intensive IT stabilization and modernization efforts of the past two years, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) was well prepared when the agency’s physical offices closed in March due to the pandemic.

The USPTO transitioned seamlessly to mandatory telework, despite having an unprecedented number of employees accessing agency IT systems from home. 

  • On average, over 13,000 secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) connections to the headquarters campus occur every day, a 75% increase over the daily average prior to the pandemic. 
  • Each day, an average of 6,000 participants hold 1,200 virtual meetings using the agency’s secure teleconferencing tools—supported by five system upgrades and configuration enhancements—which connect USPTO employees, contractors, and the public.
  • Over 9,000 patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys working virtually continue to diligently process tens of thousands of patent and trademark applications: examiner productivity has improved by 3%.

Utilizing these tools, the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) were among the first tribunals in the nation to conduct virtual hearings, allowing pending appeals to continue on schedule. This year, PTAB held more than 1,024 all-virtual hearings, 213 of which had public attendees.

To support this all-virtual environment, IT and administrative personnel worked together to procure and deploy 2,000 monitors, 3,200 printers, and 500 broadband routers to teleworking employees in the first few weeks following the stay-at-home order. 

For more information on the USPTO’s successes in modernizing its technology infrastructure, read the Director’s Forum: A Blog from USPTO’s Leadership on the USPTO website. For all news updates on the USPTO’s responses to the pandemic, please visit USPTO notices regarding COVID-19.