“The culture at the USPTO is warm, passionate, productive, and team-oriented. The USPTO really makes its employees feel like members of a team who care about achieving a common goal.”
A ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at the patent litigation process
After completing his undergraduate degree in life sciences, Andrew K. attended law school intent on focusing on intellectual property and health law. The Ottawa, Canada native knew early-on that becoming familiar with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would be valuable to his future career.
Andrew’s specific career ambition is to work in patent litigation—a significant portion of which occurs at the USPTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). “I wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look at the procedures applied during PTAB proceedings and gain insight into how PTAB judges make decisions,” Andrew says.
Understanding the intricacies of the judges’ decision-making
Working with the administrative patent judges of the PTAB is Andrew’s favorite part of working at the USPTO. “This experience has allowed me to get to know many judges personally. Their guidance and criticism is invaluable because they each provide advice from slightly differing perspectives based on their respective experiences in patent law before coming to the PTAB… it’s opened my eyes to all the different opportunities I can explore once my clerkship ends,” Andrew says.
During his clerkship, Andrew will assist the judges with reviewing arguments of differing parties, highlight important issues, research new or uncommon issues, prepare for hearings, and draft decisions. “This includes opportunities for me to hear the judges’ thoughts directly, but also to see indirectly how well the judges receive different types of arguments and techniques from the parties,” Andrew says.
In a specific example of his clerkship experience, he recently used multiple research sources to draft a memorandum addressing a specific issue of law. Andrew used the case file systems at both the PTAB and the federal courts to obtain the important information he needed. He then organized his analysis into a clear and logical final presentation that was helpful to his judges.
The skills needed to be successful
Andrew advises others who are considering applying to the judicial law clerk program at the PTAB to bring a diversified skill set to the table, including clear writing skills, good organization skills, and the ability to work with many different kinds of people. “Also, think about how this experience would fit into your long- and short-term goals,” Andrew recommends. “That will help you tailor the clerkship experience to best meet your particular circumstances.”
Though Andrew may be leaving the USPTO once his clerkship ends, the experience will stay near and dear to him as a special part of his early career. “The culture at the USPTO is warm, passionate, productive, and team-oriented. The USPTO really makes its employees feel like members of a team who care about achieving a common goal,” says Andrew. “I’ve loved working with and getting to know judges who are welcoming and genuinely interested in my career growth and success.”