Carmen L.

Patent Attorney

“Being a patent examiner is one of the best ways to learn, to understand, and to gain real-world experience in patent preparation and prosecution.” 

Carmen’s commitment to continual professional development has led to a varied career. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, she earned both a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business. 

USPTO career growth

Carmen has been with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for more than 12 years. She has served as a primary patent examiner, a Patent Trial and Appeal Board detailee, an Office of Petitions detailee, an outreach coordinator at the Texas Regional Office, and most recently, as a patent attorney for the Office of Enrollment and Discipline. Carmen approaches each role as an opportunity to both leverage her existing skillset and grow professionally.

For example, although her studies in chemical engineering and work experience as a registered patent attorney prepared her for patent examination, she said working as a patent examiner deepened her understanding of intellectual property (IP) policies and law.

“Being a patent examiner is one of the best ways to learn, to understand, and to gain real-world experience in patent preparation and prosecution,” Carmen said.

Regional office detail

She decided to apply for a detail as an outreach coordinator after hearing good things about the experience from colleagues, and quickly found it to be rewarding.

As a patent examiner, one has to be particularly detail oriented," Carmen explained. "Being detail oriented serves an outreach coordinator detailee well because the detailee plans outreach trips around major events (conferences, conventions, career fairs, etc.) in the city that the outreach team is scheduled to visit." 

While working at the regional office, Carmen also expanded her skills, citing public speaking opportunities for Continuing Legal Education courses and IP education trainings. Carmen also learned to write proposals for panel submissions to conferences.

“I had the opportunity to work with colleagues in a plurality of business units across the USPTO, including executives from the front office, and to see how the work that we do impacts different stakeholders,” she said. 

USPTO people and culture

In addition to being able to work from home with a flexible schedule, Carmen said the people are the best part of the agency. With her experiences in multiple areas of the agency as well as in voluntary employee organizations (VEOs), she can work and socialize with a large number of USPTO colleagues. 

As an active member of the VEO HBCUnity, Carmen seeks to support the USPTO’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility goals, as well as promote and celebrate the achievements and legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). 

“I’ve always thought that one of the best things about the USPTO is the people,” she said.