Clint Ostrup

Supervisory Patent Examiner

“There is something very satisfying about seeing the real-world impact of
inventions that have come across my desk.”

 

Clint is what we like to call around here a “PTO lifer.” 

That’s a USPTO employee who has either been here for decades or, like Clint, someone who is mid-career and already planning to retire from the USPTO. In each case, the agency holds a special place in the hearts of lifers.

Clint, of course, has quite a ways to go before retirement and has dedicated his career to helping advance the work—and the people—of the USPTO. But his path here hasn’t been a straight line. There was a bit of a detour.

 “I left in 2004 to go and work for a small company,” he says, “but when I came back to the USPTO three years later, I knew I would be here for life.” 

His career at the USPTO began in 2001 examining pharmaceutical and medical patents. Altogether, that makes almost 14 years and counting for Clint, who is now a supervisory patent examiner managing a team who examines textile, apparel and footwear patents. 

What brought him back to the USPTO? It’s simple: mission and opportunity.

While he was away, Clint’s appreciation for the agency blossomed. It’s meaningful to him that, as an examiner, he is contributing to something that is important to humanity. As he explains, by granting exclusivity rights for inventions that improve lives—or saves them—innovations can equitably enter the global market and make the world a better place. 

Or sometimes, a more fashionable one.

Shifting from medical patents into textiles, apparel, and footwear patents was not only a learning curve for Clint; it was a promotion. As his role matured as a supervisor, he was also learning about the intricacies of working with a variety of inventors, from independent entrepreneurs to some of the largest names in the apparel and footwear industry. What Clint has enjoyed the most about working with these patent applicants is seeing their products actually available for sale at retailers.

“There’s something very satisfying about seeing the real-world impact of inventions that have come across my desk,” says Clint. “And what’s really cool,”  he adds, “is that we have all worn, purchased, or seen [the] patented, and patent-pending items at stores and on several episodes of Shark Tank.”

Clint’s penchant for jumping in head first to learn new things while advancing the agency’s purpose doesn’t end at his work docket.  By volunteering his time, his resources, and his talents to other areas within the Patents organization, Clint is helping to hire, uplift, and train future examiners all while working with agency leaders to sustain an infrastructure of excellence.

Some of Clint’s biggest and most meaningful accomplishments to date have included becoming a supervisory patent examiner, seeing his examiners being promoted, and performing other ancillary work for the USPTO as a recruiter, an interview specialist, a trainer within the Patent Training Academy, and an ombudsman who fields complaints and resolves issues on open applications.

Clint is a mentor, a leader, and a champion of the USPTO. As he canvasses the country helping to recruit future examiners that may not be aware of how their skillsets and education in textiles, apparel, and footwear engineering can apply to the work of the USPTO, his perspective and advice is straight forward:

“Plan the work and work the plan,” he says. “Examining can be a difficult, challenging job, but it’s also rewarding, and one where you can be highly successful.”

By “plan” he means that examiners have a prescriptive, well-defined career path that provides specific milestones to reach in order to advance to the next level. New examiners can increase their take-home pay relatively rapidly via the noncompetitive promotion potential that is available. 

He also encourages those who are interested in becoming examiners to be organized, know how to resolve problems and issues, and to work through any challenges systematically. The beauty of this process is that employees need not face these challenges alone. One of Clint’s greatest assets are his colleagues, on which he has personally leaned to help resolve difficult cases.

“I have a team that responds quickly and selflessly to assist one another, even at the shortest of notice,” says Clint. “For example, some information was needed in 30 minutes and would have taken me hours to gather myself. So I reached out to my team and had the information in minutes.” His team is tight-knit because they all ascribe to a shared vision of success, camaraderie, and purpose.

With a clear sense of pride in his team and in the agency that he has committed his career to, Clint’s gaze remains affixed on a bright and fulfilling life at the USPTO.