Skip over navigation

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 2011. 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 2011, the Agency was forced to reduce training opportunities in response to patent funding shortfalls.

U.S. Patent Training AcademyMandatory training for first year examiners

Training in the Academy

Two training programs: Intellectual Property Experienced Examiner Training and an Entry Level Two-phase, a 12-month program.

  • Intellectual Property Experienced Examiner Training Curriculum
    This training included enhanced instruction in automation, including classes in more than a dozen specialized applications used in patent examination, multiple search systems, databases and commonly used office applications, areas such as: Classification Systems, Searching (classification, text), Claim Interpretation, Advanced Text Searching, training on Technology Center (TC) Specific tools such as STN and Dialog, Writing an Effective Examiner’s Answer, Appeal Procedure and Practice (Appeal Conference and Pre-Conference; Prevent Administrative Remand).
  • Entry Level Two-Phased 12-Month New Examiner Training Curriculum
    The legal and procedural training includes enhanced instruction in areas such as: Classification Systems, Searching (classification, text), Claim Interpretation, and Advanced Text Searching, Writing an Effective Examiner’s Answer, Appeal Procedure and Practice (Appeal Conference and Pre-Conference; Prevent Administrative Remand).

    Technical training includes: Introduction to examining applications in specific areas of technology, the current state of specific technologies, ongoing technology topics, etc.

    Automation training includes classes in more than a dozen specialized applications used in patent examination, multiple search systems, databases, and commonly-used office applications.

    Life skills training includes: time management, ethics training, stress management, balancing quality and production, professionalism, benefits and financial planning basics, balancing work and personal life, diversity training and negotiating conflict.

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 TC, 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

Legal, Practice & Procedure Training

  • Examiner Refresher Training
    Courses developed to enhance examiners’ knowledge and skills in procedural and legal topics pertaining to patent examination. Participants may enroll in one or more courses in consultation with their supervisor.
  • Legal Lecture Series
    Training offered periodically to examiners based on major court decisions and office policies.
  • In-House Patent Law and Evidence Course
    Training for Examiners on authoritative court decisions on statutory issues under 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103, and 112 and the handling of evidence during the examination of applications.
  • Negotiating in the Patent Examination Process
    An interactive lecture and workshop designed to teach the fundamentals of negotiating issues which arise during the patent examination process utilizing effective collaborative communication skills.
  • Continuing Education Series
    Training for patent examiners to enhance their technical and legal knowledge in the examination of patent applications.

    Courses Offered:
    • Non-Duty Hours Legal Studies Program (Budget Dependent)1
    • Non-Duty Hours Technical Training Program (Budget Dependent)1
    • Examiner Education Program (Budget Dependent)1
    • Technology Center Specific Technological Training (Budget Dependent)1
    • Updated Automation Tools Training (in coordination with Office of Patent Information Management)
    • Brown Bag Informational Seminars
    • Patent Administrative Professional Training
    • Patent Examiner’s Initial Training for Non-Examiners
    • Legal Secretaries and Administrators Conference


1: These programs remained suspended during FY 2011 due to budget constraints. (back to text)


In FY 2011 the Trademark organization prepared, using data gathered from the results of quality reviews that were analyzed, the content of on-line e-learning training materials for trademark examining attorneys. Live and Web cast Training Sessions and Modules were developed and released covering the following list of topics.

  • Trademark Manual of Examining Procedures (TMEP) Seventh Edition – Training
  • American Intellectual Property Law Association Legal Lecture – Ethics in Trademark Prosecution
  • Section 2(f) Training
  • Review of Recent Federal Court Cases Regarding Trademarks, Trade Dress, and Dilution
  • Industry training on trademark issues in the Communications industry sponsored by the International Trademark Association
  • Model/Grade Exam Guide Training
  • Examiner-Led Degree of Stylization Workshop

Law Office Presentations and Computer-Based Training (CBT) Modules were developed and released covering the following list of topics.

  • TMEP Seventh Edition – Highlights CBT
  • Class 16 Examining Marks Used on Publications
  • Section 2(f) CBT

Two Exam Guides and One Exam Note was published:

  • Examination Note 11-01 – Suspending Action on Section 44(d) Applications
  • Examination Guide 1-11 – Section 2(a) Deceptiveness for Class 5 Goods
  • Examination Note 11-02 – Life After a Non-final Action: An Examination Processing Guide
  • Examination Guide 2-11 – Examination Procedures for Marks with Model and Grade Designations
  • Examination Note 11-03 – TEAS Applications with Matter Other than an Individual Attorney Name in the Attorney “Name” Field

Other Guidance covering the following topics was also published and released.

  • TMEP Seventh Edition
  • TMEP Seventh Edition – Additional Training Materials
  • TMEP Seventh Edition – Follow-up Questions & Answers
  • Transcript of TMEP Seventh Edition Highlights CBT
  • Highlights for TMEP Seventh Edition
  • Section 2(f) CBT – Follow-Up Questions & Answers
  • Section 2(a) Deceptiveness – Follow-Up Questions & Answers
  • Trade Dress Training – Follow-Up Questions & Answers
  • Conditional Functionality Refusal – Excellent First Action
  • Identification of Goods and Services Requirement Writing and Samples
United States Patent and Trademark Office
Last Modified: 01/03/2012 14:04:41