“Your career at the USPTO is a direct correlation of your motivation.
You have opportunities to climb further without any obstacle, except yourself.”
Argirenia (“Renia”) is as unique as each of the patents that are submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A first generation Greek-American with a love of horseback riding, Renia also has a fierce intellect that led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Loyola University Maryland and a law degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law with an intellectual property concentration.
Before her judicial clerkship at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Patent and Trial Appeal Board (PTAB), she was a patent examiner, bringing her total tenure at USPTO to almost a full two years.
“The work-life balance [at the USPTO] cannot be found anywhere else…the culture at the USPTO is relaxed, but task-oriented,” Renia shares.
A First-Hand Look at Patent Law
Renia was initially attracted to the judicial clerkship at the PTAB because of her desire to be involved in patent law and see first-hand how different aspects of patents are handled. “I get to interact with people that are really passionate about patent law,” she explains.
Renia especially enjoys hearing the opinions of the PTAB judges, and getting to know them personally. “You get to hear how certain practices have developed at PTAB and what the motivation behind it was,” Renia says. “They acknowledge the weight that their decisions carry and are aware of what effect it has on how patent law develops.”
Attending PTAB hearings has been an especially thrilling part of her judicial clerkship. A recent two-day series of hearings was one of the most interesting that Renia has seen. She found it interesting how the attorneys weighed the importance of their arguments, and found herself assessing the attorney’s arguments much like a PTAB judge!
“The judges care about my experience”
The judges also value Renia, creating a positive, exciting work environment. “Everyone that I’ve interacted with has been more than happy to talk to me and ask for my thoughts on the matter. They care about my experience which is surreal because everyone is busy, but they still take time to talk to us.”
Renia chats about the skills she’s gained as a PTAB judicial law clerk with the confidence of a seasoned professional. She emphasizes the critical role that legal writing and oral communication have played in her judicial clerkship. In addition to that, she notes that “there is always a requirement to think about the effect a decision will have in the future.”
The legal training she received in law school has also served her well. “My law program was encouraging of us to not just know the law but to also not be afraid of speaking about our take on things and asking questions,” she explains. “This has been beneficial because there are countless opportunities to talk to PTAB judges and leadership – but if you’re scared to share your opinion, you really can’t take advantage of the opportunity.”
Passion, Problem Solving, and Independence
There are three key skills that Renia advises other incoming PTAB judicial law clerks to bring to their work if they want to be successful:
- Passion about patent law. “The exposure you get to the inner workings of the PTAB is not something everyone gets to witness,” notes Renia, “so if you really enjoy patent law, the experiences will be surreal.”
- Problem solving. “You are given an assignment. You need to come up with a proposed solution,” she instructs. “If you can’t come up with a proposed solution, then you have to do more research until a solution presents itself. There are countless resources available.”
- Independence and self-motivation. “Assignments are not always given in a time-crunched situation. You need to make sure you’re getting your work finished at a good pace and then you can ask for more work,” says Renia.
Lucky for Renia, the PTAB judges she works with, and the USPTO, she clearly possesses all three!
“Your career at the PTO is a direct correlation of your motivation,” Renia says. “You have opportunities to climb further without any obstacle, except yourself.”