What is a Patent Examiner?

A patent examiner is an employee of the USPTO (The United States Patent and Trademark Office). Patent examiners are hired by the patent office to examine patent applications and assist inventors with patenting their invention(s). When an inventor submits a patent application to the patent office, a patent examiner examines the application to determine whether the invention described in the patent application meets the requirements to be issued a patent.

Patent examiners usually hold science or engineering degrees. They have to apply their knowledge to determine whether an invention meets the patentability requirements under U.S Patent Law. Patent examiners cooperate with inventors to assist them with patenting their inventions.

A day for a patent examiner consists of reviewing patent applications in order to understand how an invention works, as well as how an invention is made. The patent examiner then has to determine the scope of what the patent application is trying to protect. Once a patent examiner makes this determination, he then proceeds to conduct a patent search to determine whether the claimed invention has already been patented or publicly disclosed.

If the patent examiner determines that the invention does meet on or more requirements of patentability, such as not being novel or being obvious, the patent examiner prepares an office action that states the issues that must be rectified in order for a patent applicant to proceed with patenting his invention. Some issues can be overcome by amending or making changes to the application, while other issues cannot be overcome.

The patent examiner then allows the applicant or his attorney to respond to the office action, the patent examiner then needs to determine whether the applicant’s response is sufficient to overcome any deficiencies the patent examiner has pointed out. If the applicant responds in a manner that addresses the patent examiner’s concerns, the examiner will allow the application or reject it.

How Much Does a Patent Examiner Make? (Patent Examiner Salary)

According to Glassdoor, the average patent examiner at the USPTO earns $85,842. Glassdoor reports salaries that range from $14,904 to $164,447. For those starting off as a patent examiner, the average patent examiner with 0 to 1 year of experience should expect to earn $74,697. For patent examiners with 4 – 6 years of experience, the average salary is $99,842. For those with 10+ years of experience, the average salary is $110,000+. So, working as a patent examiner in the United States is a great way to earn a decent income, the more experience you have as a patent examiner, the more money you’ll be able to earn.

What is the Role of a Patent Examiner?

The role of a patent examiner is to examine patent applications that come through the patent office. Patent examiners need to apply their scientific and engineering skills to determine whether the invention described in a patent application meets the requirements for patentability. The goal of the patent office is to grant valid patents, this is where patent examiners come in.

They receive patent applications, determine the scope of the claimed invention, then they proceed to review the applications to determine if it complies with the legal requirements of patenting an invention. If the examiner finds a deficiency in format or legal requirements, he issues an office action that the application typically has the option to reply to.

As a patent examiner, you have to have to be able to understand the inventions that come across your desk. This is where having a science or engineering degree comes into play. Patent examiners must be able to understand how an invention works and they have to be able to analyze whether the invention relates to any other inventions that have been patented or disclosed.

Patent examiners have to be able to analyze the invention that’s in front of them and make a determination as to whether the invention meets the requirements for patentability. If an invention does not meet the requirements, the patent examiner must be able to clearly communicate the reason or reasons as to why a patent cannot be granted. This is to allow the applicant to respond to the patent office and to explain why his invention should be granted a patent.

How to Become a Patent Examiner?

The minimum requirement to become a patent examiner is that an individual has a bachelor’s degree in the science or engineering field. Although more advanced degrees are not required, having one means that the patent examiner will be paid more. For example, having a master’s degree will allow a patent examiner to earn more and having a Ph.D. will allow a patent examiner to earn even more.

If you have the background that’s required by the USPTO, you can use USA Jobs to apply for any available positions at the USPTO. To become a patent examiner, an applicant has to have a strong background in the field of the available patent examiner position. Once you’ve found a position in your field, you can submit your application. The USPTO requires a potential patent examiner to pass a background check. Also, applicants must have registered with the Selective Service to be considered for a job with the patent office.

How Many Patent Examiners Are There at the USPTO?

According to numbers from the USPTO, there are 8,147 patent examiners, including 3,892 staff members who assist patent examiners with patent-related matters. The USPTO is always trying to improve the quality of their examination, as well as to reduce the amount of time that it takes them to approve a patent application.

The USPTO currently has a backlog of patent applications with more than 550,000 pending patent applications. It currently takes the patent office 24 months on average to either approve or deny a patent application. The patent office seems to be increasing the number of patent examiners to deal with the huge backlog of the pending patent applications at the USPTO.

Does a Patent Examiner Need to Have a Law Degree?

A patent examiner does not need to have a law degree to work with the USPTO. That said, some patent examiners leave their job with the patent office and go to law school to become patent attorneys. Patent agents, like patent examiners, are not required to have a law degree. That said, to become a patent agent, an individual must have passed the patent bar exam to represent inventors before the patent office.

What Advice Does Patent Rebel Have For Individuals Interested in Becoming a Patent Examiner?

If you want to become a patent examiner, you have to be a quick learner. Patent examiners have a short amount of time to learn about an invention and conduct a worldwide search to determine whether an invention meets the requirements for patentability.

Also, if you’re thinking about becoming a patent agent, you should have strong oral and written communication skills. This is so because you have to be able to clearly and succinctly communicate with applicants the reasons as to why their invention should or should not be granted a patent.

You need to be able to do this to allow applicants to address any issues or deficiencies with their patent application. With the current patent application backlog at the USPTO, you need to be able to get through applications quickly while accurately judging the merits of a patent application.

If this sounds like the sort of job you can handle, we encourage you to apply for any available positions with the USPTO.

Patent Examiner

By now, you should have a better understanding of what a patent examiner is, as well as the type of work that a patent examiner performs. We also included the typical salary a patent examiner should expect to earn by working at the USPTO. We also covered how to become a patent examiner, as well as the type of background that a patent examiner should have to work as a patent examiner. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.