Content tagged "Trademarks"
“I find fun in every application and explore my passion for trademark law and public service.”
All the way from Florida, he could hear it. It drew him to the edge of the nation’s capital, to live in the middle of it. What attracted trademark examining attorney Cameron McBride to the USPTO? To work, as he says, “in the beating heart of trademark law.”
Cameron’s interest in intellectual property (IP) was sparked after completing a basic trademark course during law school at the University of Miami. His fascination grew into taking every intellectual property course available. As his interest in all things IP blossomed, so did his extracurricular activity. He joined the university’s Intellectual Property Law Society to learn more about the field and to explore career possibilities and issues facing IP lawyers. He rose through the society’s ranks to vice president during his last year of law school. And during this time, “fantastic mentors helped grow my passion for trademarks.” With that, his career choice in trademark protection was cemented.
As Cameron describes it, “A trademark examining attorney reviews applications for conflicting marks, ensures they are procedurally ready for publication, and helps businesses protect their brands.” Examining attorneys may also prepare appeals and argue in front of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in certain cases.
After he made the move from Florida to join the USPTO at its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, what he learned about his new employer was a bit unexpected: “The way the USPTO takes care of its employees and offers different opportunities has been a very pleasant surprise!” He continues, “Everyone is warm, enthusiastic, and always ready to help. They’ve become a second family, especially to those of us who move from far away.”
Cameron’s favorite part of the job is working on a wide variety of topics in trademark law. He shares how “one morning you might be researching industrial oil-drilling machines, take a phone call in the afternoon regarding financial services, and finish your day by drafting a response to an applicant outlining the similarities between watches, perfumes, and clothing items.”
In the midst of the variety, Cameron also finds that there are times when cases become more personal. A recent application for virtual reality software resonated with him since his father works in a similar field.
“I was able to speak with the applicant on a level that showed that his case was not just another number lost in bureaucratic red tape,” Cameron says.
While his passion for trademark law is what drew him here, what keeps Cameron at the USPTO is the flexibility and benefits that the agency offers. He says the ability to have a flexible work schedule and earn a competitive salary are great attributes, and he appreciates the USPTO’s beautiful campus, on-site gym, and financial help with commuting costs.
On top of all of this, he gets to participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s Public Student Loan Forgiveness Program. This matters a lot to Cameron because, while trademark law is what he loves, “law school doesn’t come cheap.”
Cameron stays sharp by being an active member of local and regional bar associations and conferring with colleagues on the intricacies of particularly challenging cases.
To be a great trademark examining attorney, he says one has to possess “attention to detail, the ability to find fun in every application, and a passion for intellectual property law and public service.”
That’s pretty good advice that Cameron uses every day as a way to keep his finger on the pulse of trademark law.
“I love the work that I do…I like that I am able to practice trademark law while also serving the public. I take a lot of pride in that.”
Have you ever wondered how Coke®, Apple®, and Google® became household names? From the dawn of commerce, merchants needed to put their “mark” on the goods and services that they bartered to distinguish their products from competitors and guarantee quality.
Consumer recognition and the power of perceived value are the hallmarks of brand affinity and repeat trade: I know it. I like it. I’m buying it again.
Trademark examining attorneys play a role in this custom. They analyze trademark applications, evaluate facts, and then determine questions of law that ultimately can lead to federal trademark registration.
Simply put, trademark examining attorneys help to ensure that business owners can protect their brands so that consumers recognize them as a source of quality goods and services, and so that owners are the sole benefactors of any commercial gains once their brand enters the global retail market.
Enter Obieze, a trademark examining attorney at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The Los Angeles native joined the agency just over two years ago and loves the work that he does. But why?
“I like that I am able to practice trademark law while also serving the public. I take a lot of pride in that,” says Obieze.
His interest in trademark law was piqued in law school after taking an intellectual property (IP) course in his second year. The following semester, Obieze participated in the USPTO Law School Trademark Clinic Program, which allows students from participating law schools to practice IP law and gain real-world experience drafting and filing trademark applications for clients of the clinic.
His favorite part of the job is interacting directly with applicants to resolve trademark application issues. When working with examining attorneys like Obieze, applicants can often save time, money and, on occasion, worry. Not knowing how to navigate application issues can be daunting for under-resourced applicants.
So when issues are resolved, applicants can breathe a sigh of relief and can more clearly see a pathway to getting a registered trademark. A flood of “Thank you’s” from applicants and their counsel often follow.
“I happen to find those moments to be very humbling and gratifying, as quality customer service is a core objective at the USPTO,” says Obieze. “Such complimentary feedback from our customers is a reminder that a great customer experience goes a long way in positively influencing the public’s perception of federal employees,” he adds.
There’s no question that Obieze takes customer care seriously, as evidenced by his “outstanding” performance rating and a Comprehensive Excellence Award (ACE).
As the Trademarks organization continues to excel in its service to the public and fulfilling the USPTO’s mission, we are looking for motivated attorneys like Obieze to join us.
So what are some of the key traits that trademark examining attorneys need?
“Attention to detail, strong written and oral communication skills, and good time management,” says Obieze, noting how competitive the field of trademark law can be. “Obtain as much experience in practicing trademark law as possible to set yourself apart from other applicants,”—great guidance from a rising star.
Obieze’s love of what he does traverses his day-to-day activities. He’s a huge fan of the USPTO as an agency that cares about its employees and provides a variety of programs and career paths for professional growth and success.
Obieze says that the USPTO’s greatest attributes are its commitment to individual employees through comprehensive training and mentoring opportunities, fostering a rich culture of diversity in hiring at all levels, unparalleled work-life balance, and providing stimulating work.
Could it be that the agency’s brand as a top employer of choice and a “great place to work” makes the USPTO a household name? Absolutely.
“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.