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Collage showing images with one-word descriptors from the U S P T O Fiscal Year 2009 Performance and Accountability Report cover that reinforces the report’s tagline of Today’s Challenges – Tomorrow’s Solutions.
Performance and Accountability Report Fiscal Year 2009
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Table of Contents | Management | Financial | Auditor | IG | Other

The Nature of the Training Provided to USPTO Examiners

Achieving organizational excellence demands a high performance workforce that delivers high quality work products and provides customer service excellence. Training is a critical component in achieving consistently high quality products and services. Patent examiners and Trademark examining attorneys received extensive legal, technical, and automation training in FY 2009. The USPTO has a comprehensive training program for new patent examiners and trademark examining attorneys, embedding a well-established curriculum including initial legal training, automation training, and training in examination practice and procedure. Automation training is provided to all examiners as new systems are deployed and existing systems are enhanced. New technology-specific legal and technical training was conducted throughout the examining operations. This specific training either focuses on practices particular to a technology or was developed to address training needs identified through patent and trademark examination reviews or staff requests.

The USPTO training staff works with the Patent and Trademark organizations to address specific training concerns and serve as consultants to design specific internal programs to fit the education needs of each business unit. Training is reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis to ensure it is up-to-date and that coursework reflects developments and changes that have taken place in the industry. In FY 2009, the Agency was forced to reduce training opportunities in response to patent funding shortfalls.

U.S. Patent Training Academy – Mandatory training for first year examiners

Training in the Academy
This Program provides training for new examiners in Legal, Procedural, Automation, Life Skills, Technical, and Professional Development. Participants attend an eight-month training curriculum. Each class is composed of up to 160 new examiners, starting at specific dates during the year. The training is delivered in large group lectures or a small group workshop. The class is then split into groups of approximately 16 examiners for labs, small group discussions, and tailored training in their specific fields of study. Examiners have access to tutors, library and search assistance, and automation guidance. In addition to extensive lecture and lab training, attendees spend considerable time learning their jobs through the examination of real patent applications in a setting that provides immediate assistance when needed. The training is structured to provide new examiners with advanced entry-level competencies, as well as providing instruction in a variety of skills that will produce well-rounded, motivated employees.

  • Curriculum
    Training in the Academy includes the legal and procedural training, plus enhanced instruction in areas such as: Classification Systems, Searching (classification, text), Claim Interpretation, Advanced Text Searching, Writing an Effective Examiner’s Answer, Appeal Procedure and Practice (Appeal Conference & Pre-Conference; Prevent Administrative Remand).

    Technical training in the Academy encompasses: Introduction to examining applications in specific areas of technology, the current state of specific technologies, ongoing technology topics, etc.

    Examiners attending the Academy receive extensive training in automation, including classes in more than a dozen specialized applications used in patent examination, multiple search systems, databases, and commonly used office applications.

    The Academy provides new examiners training in life skills such as: time management, physical security, ethics, stress management, balancing quality and production, professionalism, balancing work and personal life, diversity training, dealing with conflict and difficult situations, and benefits and financial planning basics.
  • Individual Development Plan
    The Academy training program includes creating an Individual Development Plan (IDP) for each examiner. The IDP is composed of formal training courses, development assignments, and on-the-job training. The IDP is designed to assist the examiner from day one, through the first 24 months of employment. When the examiner graduates from the Academy, and is transferred to a Technology Center, the IDP will continue to enable the examiner to acquire the competencies essential to perform assigned duties and to prepare for further development.
Programs for all Examiners
  • Continuing Education
    Continuing education courses are for patent examiners. Courses include: Federal Circuit Court Decisions Affecting USPTO Practice - Key Cases of the Past Year and mastery of updated automation tools.
  • Legal Training
    TC Level courses taught by TC personnel, some developed within the TC’s. Examples include: 101 Training, 102/103 Training, Obviousness Type Double Patenting, Patent Law & Evidence.
  • Non-Duty Legal Studies programRead Footnote 11
    This is a voluntary program established to provide reimbursement for additional legal training.
  • Non-Duty Technical Training ProgramRead Footnote 11
    This is a voluntary program established to provide reimbursement for additional technical training.
  • Examiner Technical Training (Technology Center Focused)Read Footnote 11
    Includes attendance at technology fairs; seminars and lectures in the fields of biotechnology, computer software and hardware technology, semiconductors, communication technology, and knowledge management.
  • Automation Training
    TC-Focused Classes: EAST Databases, EAST, Automated Searching for Design Examiners, EAST and Optical Character Recognition, OACS Basics for Design Examiners, Non-Patent Literature Web Resources in Your Art Area, Classification and Security Review.
1: These programs were suspended in FY 2009 due to reductions in fee collections. (back to text)



In FY 2009, in the Trademark organization, using data gathered from the results of quality reviews that were analyzed were used to prepare the content of on-line e-learning training materials for trademark examining attorneys. Live and Webcast Training Sessions and Modules were developed and released covering the following list of topics.

  • Evidence for Refusals/Requirements - When Needed, Types Available, and Strategies for Gathering
  • Examination Procedures for Section 2(a) and Section 2(e)(3) Deceptiveness Refusals for Geographic Marks
  • Examination Procedures for Section 2(a) Deceptiveness Refusals for Non-Geographic Marks
  • 46 Separate Discussions on Classification (Reflecting International Classes 1 through 45)
  • Evidentiary Issues in Ex Parte Appeals to the TTAB
  • Scope Considerations in Relation to Amendments to an Applicant’s Identification of Goods or Services
  • Fraud in Trademark Prosecution and the Medinol line of Cases
  • Discussion of Revisions in the TMEP
  • Letters of Protest in Trademark Applications
  • Panel discussion on the federal trademark registration process from the perspective of a law firm attorney or in-house counsel representing a client before the USPTO
  • Industry training on trademark issues in the online industry sponsored by the International Trademark Association (INTA)

Law Office Presentations and Computer-Based Training Modules were developed and released covering the following list of topics.

  • Evidence for Refusals/Requirements - When Needed, Types Available, and Strategies for Gathering
  • Top Amendment Entry Issues in Trademark Examination
  • X-SEARCH - Truncation, Pattern Matching and Limiting by Class
  • Genericness issues

Four Exam Guides and Two Exam Notes were published.

  • Updated Exam Guide 2-08 (originally released May 2008, but updated May 2009) - Examination Procedures for the Description of the Mark Requirement in Trademark Rule 2.37
  • Examination Guide 4-08 - Letters of Protest in Pending Trademark Applications
  • Examination Guide 1-09 - Examination Procedures for Section 2(a) Deceptiveness Refusals for Non-Geographic Marks
  • Examination Guide 2-09 - Examination Procedures for Section 2(a) and Section 2(e)(3) Deceptiveness Refusals for Geographic Marks
  • Exam Note Regarding TEAS-Filed Responses
  • Exam Note: When to Suspend Action on an Application Pending Receipt of the Foreign Registration Where Section 44(d) is Claimed

Other Guidance covering two topics were also published and released.

  • Summary of Miscellaneous Changes to Trademark Rules Effective January 16, 2009
  • List of Countries that Have Standard Character Marks or Equivalent
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