“We have a very community-oriented culture at the USPTO. From the moment you begin work as a trademark examining attorney, there is a ready-built network of people waiting to assist you in getting acclimated to the work.”
From fashion law to trademark examining success
Chioma advises attorneys interested in becoming United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark examining attorneys to “be open to a new way of thinking about the law.” Chioma’s way of looking at law was influenced by her leadership in fashion law club at Howard University law school; her interest in fashion law is what sparked her interest in trademarks. After learning more about trademark law, she explored federal employment options and landed at the USPTO.
Chioma says the USPTO offers flexibility and autonomy over work that were lacking in her previous employment. “I like having my own work and being able to create my own plan to complete it,” she says. Although the workload at the USPTO can be challenging, Chioma appreciates that she can create her own schedule to manage the work in a way that’s beneficial to her work-life balance. She has met success with setting her own schedule; she attained the “Outstanding” requirement for production immediately after completing the Trademark Academy.
The benefits of mentorship
As a trademark examining attorney, Chioma reviews trademark applications submitted by members of the public, analyzing them to ensure they comply with statutory and procedural guidelines. She also guides applicants through the trademark examination process by answering questions and providing legal explanations regarding application defects and progress. After five years at the USPTO, she now shares her lessons learned with new trademark examining attorneys through Trademark Academy mentorship. “We have a very community-oriented culture at the USPTO,” she says. Every day, she is motivated to help mentees develop their skills and achieve their professional goals.
Mentoring “has been a very rewarding experience thus far,” she says. “In a way, I feel like I am relearning the job and gaining more confidence in the work. It feels good to help others get adjusted and feel comfortable examining, because I remember how hard it was for me to adjust when I first started.”
Her typical workday begins with checking emails and messages to ensure all pending assignments are up to date. Then, she switches gears to focus on reviewing mentees' work by examining their comments and analyzing their applications for any issues. Once any issues are identified, she guides her mentees by comparing her findings with their comments, providing feedback along the way. This process is repeated throughout the day, ensuring that each mentee is given the support they need to develop their skills over time and succeed in their role.
A positive work culture
Chioma appreciates the supportive work environment at the USPTO. "From the moment you begin work as a trademark examining attorney, there is a ready-built network of people waiting to assist you,” she says. Overall, she credits her career as a trademark attorney and her experiences with mentoring for her deeper understanding of the law and nuances of trademark applications.
For the future, Chioma is curious about exploring trademark policy. She advises those looking to join the USPTO to “forget what you knew before you came here. Be open to a new way of learning how to analyze and explain the law." Learning is a lifelong pursuit for this attorney, and she has found her USPTO experience to be “challenging but rewarding.”