For MSPL Graduate, Patent Examiner is Career Option

Stroh River Place

Stroh River Place, Detroit, MI

A post from our student blogger Sarah Goodman

Some members of the MSPL class met with patent examiners at the Detroit USPTO satellite office over spring break. The educational requirements for a USPTO patent examiner are similar to the educational requirements to become a U.S. patent agent. A patent examiner must have a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. Employment as a patent examiner is a potential short-term or long-term career opportunity for a graduate of the MSPL program.

Employment as a patent examiner could be short-term. A patent examiner job pays well and the starting salary is increased for a graduate of the MSPL program versus an individual with no intellectual property graduate education. Experience working as a patent examiner is beneficial for future job searching. Employers value a job candidate who has experience working for the USPTO as a patent examiner. A patent examiner has a very detailed understanding of the MPEP because the MPEP is the manual which contains the rules for the patent prosecution process. A patent examiner also gains a familiarity with the best strategies for writing a patent application for allowance which is extremely valuable knowledge. Working short-term as a patent examiner could be a good way for a graduate of the MSPL program to get experience that would be valued by any future employer.

Employment as a patent examiner could also be long-term. The field has the ability for promotion based on performance. For individuals who would like a lot of time with family or need job flexibility, a career as a patent agent is flexible in regards to the work schedule. Another appealing aspect of a patent examiner position is the ability to work from home after working at least two years and meeting certain performance standards.

The MSPL curriculum prepares students for the option of a career as a patent examiner at the USPTO. Currently, applicants with bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Computer Engineering, or Electrical Engineering are needed by the USPTO to assist with the backlog of unexamined patent applications. In the future, these postings may remain and other backgrounds may also be needed.

Chicago, Chicago – it’s a wonderful town!!

On Friday, October 26, 2012, the MS in Patent Law students went to Chicago to hear from Wade Green and Ashley Romano about what it’s like to work in a University’s Office of Technology Transfer.

We arrived a bit early, so the students could have an opportunity to explore the city. They saw the Bean (properly, “Cloudgate”).

photo by MSPL student Beau Horner

Students also went exploring the culinary scene, and found a great pastry shop.

photo by MSPL student Sarah Goodman

photo by MSPL student Sarah Goodman

After the careers presentation, we headed to Chinatown for dinner. We shared hot-pot, and everyone had bubble tea! The floor of the restaurant had a “river” built into it, with real koi.

photo by MSPL student Sarah Goodman


Look for a post soon about what the students learned about careers for patent agents in Universities!

Need a Job? Make a Plan. (For Free)

Students in Notre Dame’s Patent Law Program already have a clear idea of how they want to use their education and are on direct path to a booming career field. But what about others, who need help learning how to apply their science skills to the workforce? Turns out—there’s an app for that.

In the magazine Science,Jim Austin and Bruce Alberts note patent law among the “career options that Ph.D. scientists haven’t trained for directly—but for which they have useful knowledge, skills, and experience.” But as Martin Rosenberg points out, there is still “a huge disconnect between how we currently train scientists and the actual employment opportunities available for them.”

Which brings us to the IDP, or, Individual Development Plan. While the concept has been used mostly by corporations and governmental agencies to encourage employee introspection and outlined goal-setting, now academia seems to be catching on. Perhaps due to bleak job market in education and more graduates turning to alternative careers, many degree programs have inserted IDP’s in their curriculum to get students thinking about life after graduation.

Sound good like a good idea? It’s about to sound better—a free web app called myIDP has just been released. This self-assessment tool was designed by career professionals in science to help users indentify key career goals and outline the steps to be taken toward their achievement.  The app even has an option to send you email reminders and updates, in case your focus needs an extra kick every now and then.

Check out myIDP here and report back on what you find!

The Value of American Ideas

What comes to mind when you think of American exports? Cadillacs? Doritos? Those are easy, but you may not consider services like finance and education, and you probably don’t think of American ideas either. But as shown on the chart below, intellectual property falls under the “Royalties and Licensing” bubble, and makes up a big chunk of American GDP.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis Credit: Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

According to NPR’s Planet Money, American ideas bring in about $105.6 billion from overseas. And as illustrated in the next breakdown, the lion’s share of these monies comes from “Software” and “Industrial Processes”—both of which depend on patent protection to ensure the intellectual property is not being abused, and the developer is getting their fair share of compensation from use.

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis Credit: Lam Thuy Vo / NPR

“Industrial processes” comprise anything from medicine and drug formulas to trade secrets and technology in manufacturing. It all goes to show that intellectual property, while it may be as intangible as a thought, idea, or simple moment of inspiration, is a big, global business—a business that needs individuals like you to be a part of!