“I’m happy to know that I played a small role in entrepreneurs pursuing their dreams.”
Courtney, a trademark examining attorney, says that the USPTO checks all the boxes on her “My Dream Job” list. A wide variety of interesting subjects to work on in a day? Check. Diversity and friendly work environment? Check. Schedule flexibility and work-life balance? Check. The USPTO has all of these attributes and more.
It’s the “and more” part that has her still examining trademarks after a decade. Sometimes her work puts her in the company of remarkable customers. As Courtney describes it, “One really cool aspect is that some applications for trademarks require signatures of famous people. Two notable ones I remember reviewing were from Derek Jeter and Francis Ford Coppola.”
Courtney also enjoys participating in the USPTO’s community outreach events. Specifically, she volunteered for several years at the National Trademark Expo, where the USPTO teaches the public about the value of trademarks and their importance to the economy. She also carries fond memories of participating in the agency’s charitable events. In one situation, she dressed in full costume as the purple grapes from the Fruit of the Loom® logo and visited patients at the National Children’s Hospital. In another, she put together a gift basket for her office to raffle for the Combined Federal Campaign, which collects donations from federal employees to distribute to a variety of charities.
Another intangible and fun aspect of the job for Courtney is seeing trademarks she has reviewed show up years later in the real world and become popular and successful.
“During my first year on the job, I approved a trademark for a new cable channel, and recently it has become a popular cable television network that has popped up on my own television,” she says. “Another mark I examined early in my career was for a custom online stationery business, and in the last few years I noticed that many of the holiday cards I received from friends and family bear their trademark.”
Courtney also appreciates the many opportunities for career advancement and development. She shares that “within the trademark operation, there are opportunities to mentor new examiners or even be a ‘buddy’ to new hires. To help broaden one’s experience, there are short-term assignments—or ‘details’—that allow employees to work in a different area of the agency. And those who would like to pursue career advancement can apply to be a senior attorney and then a managing attorney for a trademark law office.”
As a journalism major in college, Courtney was always drawn to the field of intellectual property, which encompasses creations of the mind, literary and artistic works, and designs and symbols.
“Intellectual property like trademarks allows creators to financially benefit from their works while having the protection of the law to prevent infringement,” she says. “Trademarks help create innovation and make businesses flourish.”
While all of Courtney’s experiences at the USPTO thus far have been meaningful, sometimes it’s the simple gratitude and the understanding that she is making a difference that makes her grateful for her job.
“There is nothing more satisfying than having applicants tell you how excited they are to get their marks registered and start their business ideas while thanking you for your assistance,” she explains. “The excitement is contagious and it makes me happy to know I played a small role as these entrepreneurs pursue their dreams.” Check.