The USPTO Needs to Investigate This Disturbing ‘Patent Examiner’ Reddit Thread

“It is astonishing that a patent examiner would take to a public forum, disclose information relating to the application on which they are working, and confess to not wanting to issue a patent based on personal political beliefs.”

patent examiner redditEditor’s Note: A USPTO spokesperson sent IPWatchdog the following statement in response to the topic of this article:

“As a general practice, we do not comment on unverified statements by anonymous commenters on Reddit or any other social media platform.”

If you have done a search for just about anything using Google, you have no doubt at one time or another stumbled across Reddit, the self-described “home to thousands of communities, endless conversation, and authentic human connection.” Regardless of what you are interested in, there is a community and conversation to be found on Reddit.

For those familiar with Reddit and the breadth of topics covered it probably comes as no real surprise that there is a patent examiner Reddit, which has some 4,800 users. What should be surprising—shocking even—is what was recently discussed in one quickly deleted thread within that patent examiner Reddit.

Inappropriate and Indicative

Earlier this week, User Snoo_86350 posted the following:

“I have a case in my docket filed by a company in Israel, which is basically for soldiers to provide military solutions by combining real battlefield experience with technological innovation. I have been watching news about Columbia campus protest. And Obviously, I can’t refuse to examine this case and I won’t, but can’t help thinking of Gaza Strip where about 2 million Palestinians live, can’t escape and bombarded. So I have mixed feelings, as I would allow this case, thus strengthening their portfolio only to get more investment. Do you guys any similar experience or feelings? It is my first time to examine this kind of case as our Art Unit rans out of cases.”

Eventually, after being active and collecting comments for a day, the Reddit moderator removed the post, explaining that the post was unprofessional: “This post has been removed because it was deemed unprofessional, and reflected poorly on the community. Ask your SPE what to do,” wrote the patent examiner-ModTeam.

As stunningly inappropriate as this post was, the replies by other self-identified patent examiners are even more troubling and indicative of deep problems at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

“Then don’t allow,” wrote zyarva, a self-identified patent examiner. “I once had a computer network application that blogsphere were mocking when it was published, alleging the application was going to monopolize a basic service of the Internet. I kept rejecting and finally they abandoned.”

While almost obligatorily concluding that “no one rejects based on personal beliefs,” after railing about how there is no objectivity possible when it comes to examining and implying that the broadest reasonable interpretation will allow for any desired outcome, CurlyBluePiranha, another self-identified examiner wrote: “If a case ends up on my docket and I feel strongly about it and I am willing to invest extra time on my dime to make sure it doesn’t get allowed then so be it.”

To be fair, there were several self-identified examiners who gave objectively good advice. Beast82 suggested that if the poster was not comfortable working on the case, he/she should talk with the Supervisory Patent Examiner (SPE). But perhaps the best advice was from DonPeligro, who wrote: “To be a civil servant, you need to leave your personal beliefs at the door and just do the job. If you can’t do that, I’m not sure being a civil servant is right for you.”

Despite the several pieces of good advice provided, it is astonishing that a patent examiner would take to a public forum, disclose information relating to the application on which they are working, and confess to not wanting to issue a patent based on personal political beliefs. What kind of culture is growing behind the scenes at the USPTO? Why would examiners feel comfortable enough to openly discuss not following the law and Office protocol in a public forum?

And let’s not pretend—self-identified examiners who commented on this thread and say they “work extra hard” or “on their own dime” or that they keep rejecting until the applicant gives up are not following the law and are ignoring Office procedures and protocols. The law literally says that an applicant is “entitled to a patent” unless the examiner can articulate a reason to deny. And the reason has to be on its face plausible, a sensible, fair-minded rationale, and not based on prejudice. That is why the law requires the examiner to use the “broadest reasonable interpretation” of a claim, not any ridiculous, wild, unreasonable interpretation that will send the message to the applicant they have no hope and should give up.

Is the USPTO Tolerating This Approach?

The USPTO has an examiner problem, and everyone in the industry has known about it for a very long time. There are some examiners that do not follow the law, and they ignore Office procedures, rules, and protocols. There are some examiners that never issue any patents, year after year denying everything they review. Likely because of archaic government human resources rules, it is virtually impossible to fire malcontent and malicious examiners. The Office solution is to leave them in place and turn the application process into a crapshoot for innovators.

Luckily, as the result of examiner allowance data being readily available, it is easy enough today to identify when you have received an examiner with a single-digit allowance rate, which should simply cause sane innovators to abandon immediately. What is impossible to identify, however, is when an examiner will use their own biases and morality rather than the law to prevent a patent from ever issuing.

Examiners are given a certain number of hours to examine applications. If they are unable to find prior art or any legitimate reason to reject within the allotted hours they are supposed to issue the patent. That is the law, and it is what the rules require. But that is apparently not what always what happens.

Action Should Be Taken

While the USPTO seems content to dismiss this as unverified and anonymous, a review of the Reddit user profile for Snoo_86350 suggests this person is, in fact, a patent examiner. In addition to this now removed question, post after post made by Snoo_86350 discusses special assignment within the Office, eSignature requirements, GS pay-grade, and even non-public emails sent by the Director to all employees relating to celebrating LGBTQIA+. Snoo_86350 has described themselves as a new primary examiner seeking advice from more experienced primary examiners, explained that at times they have no motivation to search, and has asked questions about what to do when relevant prior art is located after already sending a notice of allowance.

Is Snoo_86350 an examiner? It certainly appears so. If I were running the Office I’d want to know and would not feel content to dismiss this as unverified and anonymous. Because if Snoo_86350 and the others commenting are the examiners they purport to be, we are getting a disturbing glimpse into the underbelly of examination, which at times doesn’t seem to be governed by the law or Office rules and procedures, but rather on personal political beliefs and an individual examiner’s own sense of morality.

This situation is different than anything I can remember from the past. If the self-identified examiner who posted this initial question actually exists, they will be easy to find if the Office wants to identify the individual. There can’t be that many examiners who are reviewing Israeli military technology in Art Units not typically assigned to undertake such work. So, the specificity of what has been published publicly demands an investigation be undertaken and discipline handed out to this examiner. Alternatively, the Office needs to assure the public that this was nothing more than a poser pretending to be an examiner and remind examiners to check their personal beliefs at the door and use this as a teaching moment.

Notwithstanding,  if you are an Israeli military company with pending applications at the USPTO, prudence demands that you with all due haste investigate whether this is your application examiner Snoo_86350 is discussing. It will be much easier to take action now, both publicly and behind the scenes, than it will after your application has been wrongfully subjected to the whims and fancy of an unprofessional examiner who doesn’t want you to be able to strengthen your portfolio because of their political views.

Image Source: Deposit Photos
Author: merzavka
Image ID: 12839202 

Share

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com.

Join the Discussion

52 comments so far. Add my comment.

  • [Avatar for Nils Soldenstrom]
    Nils Soldenstrom
    May 17, 2024 11:30 am

    “ If they are unable to find prior art or any legitimate reason to reject within the allotted hours they are supposed to issue the patent. That is the law…” Can you tell me where to find this statute? Thanks.

  • [Avatar for John G.]
    John G.
    May 17, 2024 10:16 am

    George,

    It is possible for humans to carry on with reasonably good examination. It would require serious overhaul of the classification/application assignment systems using practical means.

    I realized this 25 years ago when I was still a primary examiner at the PTO and spent a good amount of my own time devising and proposing a system to our group director for addressing this gathering storm. The proposed system required humans to classify applications, and that human would be one of a group of seasoned examining professional from within the examining group receiving applications from the initial “rough” classifiers.

    The human expert aspect of the proposal was crucial. These professionals would have been classifying applications on a rotating basis, so their chief responsibility remained examination. After this more granulized classification within the group, docketing would have been carried out by an algorithm chiefly based on expertise within subclass groups.

    The group director arranged a meeting for me to present the proposal and it was well received by a small portion of attending SPEs. Unfortunately, that is where it ended. I tried to get PTO IT people involved because the proposal would have needed access to PALM data, but the ideas fell flat because no one was interested in initiating a pilot within our group.

    After leaving the PTO, someone called me to say my idea was being considered for some idea award. When I informed that person that I no longer a PTO employee, the call quickly ended. Now, having spent about 25 years out here prosecuting applications, I do hope for AI to eventually take most examination jobs because examination is becoming unrealizable. We can instead have some kind of quasi-registration system where examination can be requested on a case-by-case basis, so a much small group of the best examiners can be retained.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    Anon
    May 17, 2024 07:54 am

    Dear examiner,

    Are you trying to be obtuse?

    Arguing for the sole purpose of arguing. Sure, I know that rain is wet, and I accept that. However, I will not allow it to make me wet.

    No, this is most decidedly NOT either arguing for the sole purpose of arguing, or accepting as some fait accompli that water (internal) MUST make my client (external) wet.

    Reverse the ‘internal/external’ designation for an easy to understand demonstration:
    Examiner standing outside a house in the rain, getting wet.
    Applicant standing inside the house, staying dry.

    Examiner exclaims, “It’s raining, therefore everyone must be getting wet because water is wet.”

  • [Avatar for Tom Wong]
    Tom Wong
    May 17, 2024 12:34 am

    @Gene

    I’d like to think that PTAB exists to resolve situations like this. This shouldn’t be made to such a big deal.

  • [Avatar for NoneofYourBusiness22152]
    NoneofYourBusiness22152
    May 16, 2024 03:52 pm

    This is nothing new; all legal systems have to be administered by human beings, and some humans have a problem with being impartial and/or fair. When I went through the Patent Academy 34+ years ago, we were told that if our own personal beliefs created a conflict of interest in examining a particular application, then you should ask your supervisor to transfer the case to someone else (There IS an internal system for resolving potential conflicts of interest, although it seems to be mainly geared toward identifying potential financial conflicts by scrutinizing your investment portfolio. Patent examiners get mandatory legal ethics training at least every two years, so it is inexcusable that patent examiners are not aware of their duty to be impartial). The real problem, in my opinion, is our “woke” universities teaching their students to be communist political activists dedicated to overthrowing “the system”, instead of teaching them critical thinking skills, or how to be impartial, or fair.

  • [Avatar for chopper]
    chopper
    May 16, 2024 02:16 pm

    “What kind of culture is growing behind the scenes at the USPTO?”

    i mean, let’s not necessarily assume that a couple of people posting on a subreddit are representative of the patent examining core here. if you ever read the comments at patently obvious the same way you’d think that patent practitioners are a bunch of b****y jerks.

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 15, 2024 03:14 pm

    @ Gene Quinn

    SOON we won’t NEED ‘human’ examiners anymore! They (and most patent attorneys) will become obsolete, like so many other people. We will move to a largely automated, 21st century patent system. Time to start accepting that and getting used to it (or maybe time for retirement).

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 15, 2024 03:09 pm

    @ examiner

    Why we really need AI to do all this in the 21st century! We still have a 19’th century patent system, which is no longer working and is OBVIOUSLY ‘obsolete’ and BROKEN! Humans can’t do this anymore – period! Isn’t that obvious to everyone by now? How can ‘humans’ possibly search and ‘correctly analyse’ ALL past knowledge, in multiple languages, even if given 10 years to do it? And how can any judge or jury possibly do this, especially if they aren’t even experts in a specific field? It’s just ‘fantasy’ and delusion now. An AI would (eventually) ALWAYS be the ‘ultimate expert’ in everything, including law!

    People (especially attorneys & PTO employees) are still ‘in denial’ about just how bad our system of ‘unfairly’ dealing with IP issues is! It was easy in the 1800’s, especially since most innovation then only occurred in America and a few European countries, and the population of the world was 10% of what it is now and what was known in the past was not even 0.1% of what it is now. Indeed, all this is why computers are ideal for dealing with this tremendous information overload problem. They can easily handle a million times more information, data, and complex analysis, than humans can, without getting tired, annoyed, mad, biased, greedy, or self-interested and do all of this literally 24/7, including on weekends & holidays! And they would do all this ‘a million times faster’ than any human will ever be able to do!

    An AI could search ‘all knowledge in the world’, not just patents, do so in ANY language in the world, analyze ALL THAT tremendous amount of information and come to a logical, objective, ‘consistent’ and ‘fair’ conclusion, without any bias or concern for WHO is applying for a patent. It could do all this in ‘at most’ an hour and without the need to be paid anything (except some electricity)!

    That would be FANTASTIC and exactly what we now need in the 21st century (i.e. an actual 21st century IP system)! This could allow for ‘valid’ and ‘strong’ patents in a week or less, for maybe $200, with appeals to ‘lowly humans’ still being allowed (for those who still believe they could possibly compete with an AI that knows all)!

    The Founders would certainly have endorsed this idea too! They would have said it was a ‘no-brainer’ and told Congress to implement it as fast as possible!

  • [Avatar for examiner]
    examiner
    May 15, 2024 09:17 am

    “and confess to not wanting to issue a patent based on personal political beliefs.”
    The Examiner did NOT state that they would not want to issue the patent, why are you manufacturing a false statement? He/she stated “I have mixed feelings”, and asked if other Examiners had similar experience of feelings.

    “Sure, YOU have to operate as per your internal measures – but that is ONLY for your internal aspects – NOT the external ones.”
    Arguing for the sole purpose of arguing. Sure, I know that rain is wet, and I accept that. However, I will not allow it to make me wet.

  • [Avatar for irony!]
    irony!
    May 15, 2024 09:06 am

    @ David Lewis: Look inward, my friend, and you will see.

  • [Avatar for David Lewis]
    David Lewis
    May 15, 2024 01:48 am

    RE

    “My favorite examiners are the ones who do literally no work. There’s one guy who first-action allowed every single application I had before him over about a decade of practice amounting to nearly 100 issued patents. The guy was well known to work a week per month, at most, doling out first action allowances. 27 years tenure now, with a fat pension to boot. Hilarious.”

    That does not sound correct unless something has dramatically changed at the US PTO. Someone with too high of a first office action allowance rate would likely catch the wrong type of attention from their SPE and Director.

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 14, 2024 10:07 pm

    @ Craw Cash It

    How many times has the USPTO been hacked in the last 20 years? Will we ever find out? Does Congress and the FBI even know? My guess it’s every few years. They just don’t have the experts to really prevent that. Including the theft of tons of patent applications? Only would take a few ‘zero-risk’ minutes now!

    Also, how do we know if there are any ‘spies’ right in the PTO (especially foreign born ones)? Are there any Chinese patent examiners? Do examiners get lie detector tests every few years? We don’t know any of those things! Why not?

    And how do we know that ‘all’ the examiners now working from home can’t be hacked? 11,000 of them? That sounds almost unbelievable! Do they have ‘underground’ hardwired connections to the PTO or something? Do they block out all their windows? Doubt it!

    Any determined country could surely get to at least a portion of those home computers and workers, couldn’t they? Also a lot easier to steal info off a ‘home’ computer ‘screen’, than one at the PTO! Has anyone in Congress considered all these huge serious security risks or don’t they care? Does Congress care, or even understand them? Does the FBI care about ANYTHING that goes on at the USPTO? Do they ever get any complaints?! Again, we don’t know! Why is that? Everybody ‘happy’ over there? Everybody ‘too afraid’ to say anything? Pretty sure Quinn’s comments won’t help any with that, do you?

    Seems he wants the PTO to quickly shut up any naysayers or critics. That’s not good! We need many MORE ‘whistle-blowers’ in this country, not fewer! In fact, that’s what’s lacking in most countries and why THEY are so corrupt! Some just kill or ‘disappear’ THEIR whistle-blowers! At least that won’t start happening here (right Boeing?). lol

    Tons of cheating, fraud & corruption out there. Surprising that Quinn and other patent attorneys haven’t even heard of any. What about ‘SAWS’ . . . ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil’ when it comes to the USPTO? Safer that way?

    1000’s of patent attorneys have no serious concerns about what’s going on at the PTO, especially after the AIA? No problems with foreign born examiners? None of them? They would NEVER do anything wrong? Who paid for the AIA anyway? Not inventors! They would never have paid for those crappy patent law changes, that basically were all dictated by Europe! The Founders are rolling in their graves! What happened to ‘equity’ in America? Got sold out, along with everything else?

  • [Avatar for Craw Cash It]
    Craw Cash It
    May 14, 2024 04:26 pm

    I guess the Judge Newman drama has dried up so Gene needed to find a different drama swamp to clutch his pearls for. Wake me up when he covers something real, like the USPTOs continuing IT and electronic interface failures and alleged DDoS attacks.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    Anon
    May 14, 2024 09:40 am

    Come on Anon,

    My point stands: do NOT make the Office internal metrics an issue for my client or me.

    No matter what those internal metrics are – and again, those simply do not abide me – You (the Royal You) must examine under the law.

    Even the MPEP in its weasel words of ‘guidance’ not being controlling law states that ONLY controlling law is actually, well, controlling.

    Sure, YOU have to operate as per your internal measures – but that is ONLY for your internal aspects – NOT the external ones.

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 14, 2024 12:53 am

    notanexamineryet

    What his name!!!! Please!!!! LOL! My experience is the exact opposite of that!!! Which is the biggest problem at the PTO with ‘human’ examiners!!! This would NEVER happen with AI examiners – not even 30 years later! If it’s valid initially, it’ll be valid forever! But that’s EXACTLY what the USPTO, patent attorneys, and large corporations & monopolies DON’T WANT – ever!!! That’s why they paid so much to get the AIA! They didn’t WANT patent law to be totally objective, infallible, irrefutable and permanent! They want it to remain malleable, largely ‘subjective’ (especially under 103), and able to be ‘successfully’ challenged at any time! AI will get rid of all of that, because it will rarely screw up as to it’s search & analysis of each invention, whether recent ones, or 100 year old ones! If an AI says a claim is not allowable, then it won’t be. Whether it’s 2024 or 2054! Of course there could still be appeals to ‘humans’, but they would be unlikely to argue against a computer’s ‘logic’! What I really like! Finally ‘fair’ examinations and lawsuit, for all! Pauper and King alike! Apple & Joe Schmoe alike! Microsoft and Jane Doe treated identically! If Microsoft can get big royalties, then so can Jane!!! End of story! VALID patents could then cost $100 & be issued in less than a week, in any language! Suggested ‘broadest’ amendments possible, always provided on request! Help in drafting perfect, error free, claims free! All spelling & grammar mistakes corrected too! What’s not to love?!

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 14, 2024 12:36 am

    @ Amy

    “While Quinn claims it is his personal blog, he should be aware of the toxic environment he is creating. Spokemen’s speech is superb here: they don’t comment on anonymous statements on Reddit or any other social media platform.”

    The problem is the USPTO won’t comment on anything (like ‘SAWS’ or ‘secret’ policies) even if such allegations are all true! At least not out of court! Why regularly taking the PTO to court is a very necessary thing to do (since Congress doesn’t do much of anything). Right now the USPTO can probably get away with murder or ‘stress-induced’ suicides (not kidding).

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 14, 2024 12:32 am

    @ Amy

    “Alternatively, the Office needs to assure the public that this was nothing more than a poser pretending to be an examiner and remind examiners to check their personal beliefs at the door and use this as a teaching moment.”

    He’s saying IF it did really happen, then he didn’t want to see or hear about this kind of thing again. NOT that he doesn’t have ‘any faith’ in examiners anymore. That’s us!!!

    I think you an others are misinterpreting what he was saying. He was actually supporting the majority of ‘professional’ examiners & calling this ONE guy ‘unprofessional’ & in need of discipline (whether Quinn got things right or wrong). He’s saying this, so-called, or ‘hypothetical’ examiner, needs to be made an example of because he DOESN’T think most examiners do this sort of thing, whereas I DO! I think it happens a lot, especially if examiners make an early mistake they would like to cover up.

    “It will be much easier to take action now, both publicly and behind the scenes, than it will after your application has been wrongfully subjected to the whims and fancy of an unprofessional examiner”

    AN ‘unprofessional examiner’. He’s not saying most of them are! He’s ‘defending’ 99%+ of examiners!

  • [Avatar for Come on anon]
    Come on anon
    May 13, 2024 11:35 pm

    Anon – I know this is one of your personal platforms, but . . .

    It is not the “examiner” that is charged, under the law, with making a complete examination. If anything, the “office” is charged with that. The “office” has divided certain tasks, allocating duties and responsibilities to those best suited. Like initial intake, petitions, quality review, etc. The office has also set various metrics to monitor its progress or success in achieving the office’s duties.

    Even the section of USC you cite says that the DIRECTOR is charged with examination. So call up Kathi and let her know how you feel, because SHE is the one you have a bone to pick with.

    The “examiner” enters into an employment contract with the “office” to provide certain services. Those services ARE, in fact, governed by their performance plan and internal metrics. No matter how much you want to be in charge of what examiners have to do . . . you aren’t. Sorry.

    If I hire a company to provide landscaping services, I can’t go up to the person laying sod and demand they fix the flagstone work because “it is their job to provide complete landscaping services”. I would take that issue to the foreman or owner. Similarly, if you aren’t getting the examination you feel that you should from the office, take it up with those in charge of the office, not those examiners just doing their job (as contracted with the office, not with you or anyone else).

  • [Avatar for SharkBait]
    SharkBait
    May 13, 2024 08:50 pm

    The inanity of the comments by examiners on the reddit board in defense of themselves is indicative of the problem we face. They are clueless as to how clueless they really are.

  • [Avatar for Amy]
    Amy
    May 13, 2024 05:43 pm

    I know that Quinn is anti-examiners and anti-USPTO but this is too much.

    This is a toxic article because Quinn picked and chose some posts to make up his own version, and lied on multiple levels to attack examiner(s) and USPTO.

    Original poster (OP) was aware of the impact of intellectual properties, and set an example by separating his/her feelings from work, as OP said that the rejections should be based on prior art of record and would allow this case despite his/her mixed feelings. There was no indication saying the application should be treated differently. OP didn’t say any specifics about the application that may be considered unpublished information about the the merits of the invention either.

    And now the title is like the examiner is trying to purposely deny the application from issuing, and goes on to attack the office. So low on so many levels.

    While Quinn claims it is his personal blog, he should be aware of the toxic environment he is creating. Spokemen’s speech is superb here: they don’t comment on anonymous statements on Reddit or any other social media platform.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    Anon
    May 13, 2024 03:18 pm

    David Lewis,

    I would take your comment of,
    Specifically, I do not believe that the examiner’s quota is written into law. The hourly allotment of time per application is just intended to be an average. Some applications take longer to read or longer to search than others, for example. The examiner is always supposed to do a thorough search and examination of all the claims, no matter how long it takes.

    and take it one (at least one) step further: Examiner’s are charged to provide a full and thorough examination under the law

    35 U.S.C. 131 Examination of application.
    The Director shall cause an examination to be made of the application and the alleged new invention; and if on such examination it appears that the applicant is entitled to a patent under the law, the Director shall issue a patent therefor.

    The main conditions precedent to the grant of a patent to an applicant are set forth in 35 U.S.C. 101, 102, 103, and 112.

    There is ZERO allowance for anything less than that full examination.

    I care not at all about any internal management metrics, and such has no basis for not obtaining what is required of Examiners.

  • [Avatar for notanexamineryet]
    notanexamineryet
    May 13, 2024 02:40 pm

    My favorite examiners are the ones who do literally no work. There’s one guy who first-action allowed every single application I had before him over about a decade of practice amounting to nearly 100 issued patents. The guy was well known to work a week per month, at most, doling out first action allowances. 27 years tenure now, with a fat pension to boot. Hilarious.

  • [Avatar for Don Baker]
    Don Baker
    May 13, 2024 10:59 am

    I’m a Pro Se inventor with several engineering degrees, disabled by a DUI driver in 1985. I do R&D and file patents to keep my own sanity in the face of unemployment since 2002. I’ve had some very good examiners who gave me a lot of help to get 9 patents, 1 allowed and 1 pending, with more in mind. I started living on SSDI in 2003. If I had not gone Pro Se, and depended upon the good examiners to help me, I could not have gotten this far.
    Then there are a couple of others.
    I had one application where the examiner so badly misinterpreted prior art as to invent it out of whole cloth, claiming features it didn’t possess, as well as alleging the decimal points and mathematical ellipses in math expressions in claims to be forbidden “periods”. His questionable ethics fought me every step of the way. It didn’t matter that he made no engineering sense, and seemed to have no engineering skills.
    The USPTO backed him up all the way through the PTAB.
    There’s a vein of culture in the USPTO of “us against them”. It’s not the whole story, but still, it undermines the efforts of we who choose to work like this when no one else will let us work.
    I am thankful to have found the other culture, the one at the USPTO that supports us in making our lives contributing and worthwhile.

  • [Avatar for Johnny]
    Johnny
    May 12, 2024 08:35 pm

    Gene is not only right ton the money, he’s the only one with guts enough to say so in the entire pathetic coward IP space. There have been corrupt and outright mentally ill/deranged people working as examiners for a long time. Real practitioners know it, and know how to work around it.

    The sad thing is that the USPTO allows it, and doesnt cull these sick people the hell out.

    Worse than this, the USPTO itself is corrupt in that it artificially will tell SPEs and others, in well known group art units, to reject and keep rejecting no matter what. I’ve had examiners, apologize, that they know they are issuing borderline insane rejections because they have been told from up-on-high to keep rejecting matters of a particular persuasion, frankly, because of the deranged politics inside the USPTO.

    The USPTO has been corruptly political on so many topics, over so many years, that it is just sad. In the mean time, this all works to the benefit of large companies that can keep on fighting forever until they win, and against the little solo inventors, who cannot afford to play in this giant sleaze ball arena.

    It’s all very very sad.

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 12, 2024 04:39 pm

    @ Julie Burke

    We cannot go to market, with unprotected IP or ‘weak or invalid’ patents! Where in the Constitution did it ever state that an individual or company was NOT ALLOWED to obtain ‘broad patents’ on new inventions, especially ‘breakthroughs’ (like CRISPR)? I can’t find that anywhere. The drafters of the Constitution had no problem with even ‘a single patent’ being extremely valuable and provided with the same protections as any other patent. Now, if the PTO just doesn’t ‘like’ an application (for a myriad of reasons) they can just REFUSE TO ISSUE IT forever, or just wait till its term becomes ZERO, or the inventor just gives up (which is usually what happens in cases such as ours). That won’t happen with us!

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 12, 2024 03:29 pm

    It is well known that ‘rookie’ examiners are almost never allowed to issue patents on first examination and that they are given the applications of ‘small entities’ just so they can ‘practice’! I don’t think any large corporations are ever assigned rookies to examine their applications, but does anyone know for sure?

    This means that if you get assigned a rookie examiner, you’ll likely not get a patent on first or even second or third attempt (unless you get a different examiner later), except maybe if you are willing to extremely narrow all claims to the point that the patent becomes totally worthless or even invalid. This means that any inventor who is assigned a rookie examiner (who doesn’t know what they are doing and are using your application only for ‘practice’) is basically just ‘ripping you and your company’ off, since you won’t get the ‘good patent’ you deserve to get. Instead you may only be allowed a ‘junk’ patent having no value whatsoever (except to help your competitors). How much could THAT cost you?!

    Getting a weak or invalid patent is worse than not getting a patent at all (especially if it wasn’t published until issuance). At least if you don’t get a patent and your (U.S.) application is not allowed to be published, your invention remains a trade secret, as far as the public is concerned, which means it offers no innovative or economic benefit to anyone! Which means that weak, invalid or denied patents are still held as ‘secret inventions’ that actually HURT the US economy by never getting out there and being used to create new wealth and new jobs! That’s just plain STUPID, isn’t it Congress?

    We allege the USPTO and PTAB now PROTECT large corporations & monopolies from ‘competition’ by upstarts and startups, even though they are the ones who create new jobs, not the ‘lazy behemoths’ content with their underhanded control of markets (and now the PTO as well).

    Hear that Congress?! Look into THAT too!

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 12, 2024 03:04 pm

    @ Julie Burke

    Interesting that you brought up SAWS (as we have done many times in the past). It is still almost an obsession with us, particularly as to why Congress did not investigate it even before it ended, much less after it ended! Did Congress actually ever approve of SAWS? Was it a totally ‘secret’ program that not even Congress was to know of? Who created it and under what authority did they do it?! There’s nothing in the Constitution that says some inventions need to be prevented from EVER issuing (unless maybe for obvious national security reasons – not just ‘economic reasons’ or to protect others). Also why didn’t the FBI ever investigate it, to make sure it was all legal and constitutional? That just never made any sense to us. Who all was being protected by it clearly deliberate ‘cover-up’? We still don’t know how many inventors were affected (i.e. cheated & defrauded) by the PTO, what their names were, or what their ‘sensitive’ inventions were. The PTO claims it may have been less than 100, but we believe it was in the 1000’s. No one knows unfortunately, since that’s still being kept a secret for some reason. It is troubling that very little is known about a ‘secret program’ than ran for 20 years and ONLY STOPPED because it became impossible to continue under the AIA. Had it not been for that, it would still be operating today! That’s why it still needs a full investigation and the identification of all those responsible for it (and their punishment).

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 12, 2024 02:50 pm

    @ John G

    So you’ve noticed serious problems too, eh? Yeah, those didn’t exist 25-30 years ago. I know because I never had them before. Was always issued ‘very good’, ‘very strong’, ‘valid’ and enforceable patents before. It seems that our Congress is so stupid that it doesn’t realize that allowing the PTO to do what it is now doing under the AIA will literally DESTROY innovation and invention in this country, since it’s become impossible to protect new ideas after all the terrible changes that have been made to our patent laws now. It’s simply a MESS that actually protects no one – not even the large corporations and monopolies that wanted, PAID FOR and WROTE the AIA to be in their favor!

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 12, 2024 02:42 pm

    @ David Lewis

    Fully agree with you (see my comments). We have independent evidence of INTENTIONAL wrongdoing and actual RICO fraud committed by examiners, SPEs and higher ups, going on 15 years now!

    We were once even told (in an attempt to intimidate us) that we would be immediately sued if the PTO allowed our patent, with the examiner refusing to elaborate or mention WHO would sue us and why! In another case we had a response to an OA deliberately claimed to have never been delivered to the PTO, all the while it was on an examiners desk (which of course forced an abandonment requiring reversal by an Administrative Judge)! What happened to that examiner is unknown.

    Ask your examiner if they have ever been ‘ordered’ to simple deny a patent based on ‘who the inventor was’, or based on the ‘significance’ and ‘breath’ of the application and therefore its potential value. Of course they will always deny it, but its worth bringing up anyway (also to the SPE).

  • [Avatar for George]
    George
    May 12, 2024 02:30 pm

    The USPTO has become corrupt since passage of the AIA (at least). For DECADES it has given women inventors a much harder time when it comes to allowing them, ‘strong’, ‘broad’, ‘valid’ & ‘easily enforceable’ patents. That’s just a fact that is borne out by their own records & file wrappers! They should have been sued for violating the Constitution and women’s civil rights, long ago. That might also apply to Black & other minority inventors.

    In any case we have firsthand knowledge of being essentially ‘blacklisted’ by the PTO on three ‘separate’ applications for going on 15 years now! Prior to this we had little problem obtaining patents in less than 4 years (if necessary with more than 2 Office Actions) and once in 18 months. Now, even with multiple continuations (never required before) that have met all statutory requirements & overcome ALL possible prior art combinations which never produced anything of value (including absurd ones), we’re still being denied even one out of 3 patents on unique inventions that each could be extremely valuable and fundamental.

    It now seems that the PTO has a ‘secret policy’ that includes ‘secret orders’ to examiners NOT TO allow anyone (or at least small entities) to obtain broad patents, regardless of merit. This includes when many continuations and new searches are able to overcome all 103 objections and meet all statutory requirements for allowance, year after year. And this is when the MPEP clearly states that the FIRST search for prior art should be the most comprehensive & best search. This means that this secret policy has NOTHING to do with the statutes or any reasonable objections.

    We know this is deliberate now since after 13 years, an examiner (originally a rookie) finally admitted that the PTO considers our claims to be too broad (i.e. ‘impactful’ & ‘costly’ to other companies), so they won’t allow them, no matter what we do to argue their validity under the law. All the while our potential term gets drawn down to ZERO, since the PTO provides no means to extend terms on continuations! Prior to 1995 all patents, including those resulting from continuations received a 17 year term from date of issuance. Now, we are being denied even a 10 year term, costing us millions & potentially billions as a result of the clearly ‘punitive’ nature of the PTO’s actions! Fortunately all 3 applications were not allowed to be published and so remain trade secrets to this day.

    Where in the Constitution did it ever state that an individual or company was NOT ALLOWED to obtain a broad patent or patents, on new inventions? I can’t find that anywhere. The drafters of the Constitution had no problem with even a single patent being extremely valuable and therefore subject to the same protections as any other patent. Now, if the PTO doesn’t ‘like’ an application, they can just refuse to issue it forever.

  • [Avatar for David Lewis]
    David Lewis
    May 12, 2024 02:49 am

    I fully agree that examiners should be trained differently. Whether or not an application is allowed should not be a matter of whether the Examiner “feels” like the claims are allowable, regardless of whether they could find reasonable prior art.

    However, regarding your statement,

    “If they are unable to find prior art or any legitimate reason to reject within the allotted hours they are supposed to issue the patent. That is the law, and it is what the rules require. But that is apparently not what always what happens.”

    Perhaps you meant to say after performing a reasonable search, if the examiner does not have a good rejection, the claim(s) should be allowed (that is essentially the law).

    Specifically, I do not believe that the examiner’s quota is written into law. The hourly allotment of time per application is just intended to be an average. Some applications take longer to read or longer to search than others, for example. The examiner is always supposed to do a thorough search and examination of all the claims, no matter how long it takes.

    The culture of rejecting an application purely to establish why the claims are allowable should probably change. Although the approach in theory could be reasonable, it likely leads examiners to entrench themselves in unreasonable positions. Unfortunately, examiners are likely overly afraid of Quality Review or one of their superiors giving them grief because a claim was allegedly too broad. Consequently, examiners are likely overly cautious about the breadth of the claims they allow. Perhaps examiners should be given more search time so they feel more comfortable allowing an application when they cannot find good art.

  • [Avatar for 'Gar]
    ‘Gar
    May 11, 2024 11:04 am

    @John G.

    Sometimes you don’t even need to see the first OA. I called examiner three months after filing a response to election requirement — yet another one that was completely unfounded (no legitimately serious burden) and factually erroneous (the alleged species were not mutually exclusive) — and the retort (essentially I’ll get to it when I get to it) was telling. We got the first OA yesterday and it reflects similar attitude; 103 and he can’t identify ANYTHING in the reference suggesting the claim-recited attribute — key feature of the claimed invention — so he simply asserts that the spec’n doesn’t show it to be a critical parameter. I will tell the client to expect to appeal this one, as it is yet another one of “those” examiners (and I’ve been dealing with a real jackass for the last few years in connection with other applications for the same client……. sigh)

  • [Avatar for John G.]
    John G.
    May 11, 2024 10:47 am

    In all seriousness, Malibu Moon hits the nail on the head. Appeal as soon as possible after realizing you have a weirdo handling your application.
    You can feel this out best with conducting an interview, and during the interview, often mention the words allow, allowable etc. Some snicker when these words are mentioned, and then you know. I have a mental list of about 7 examiners that I automatically prepare for appeal upon receipt of a first action from each one of them. I find that this actually saves money and time with some applications (i.e., no RCEs and associated time) because I am seeing in many instances PTAB decisions coming back in just over a year, while in others reopening with more meaningful rejections or indications of allowable subject matter. There are times when I file more than one brief, consecutively, and then call the group director if there is a clear record of capricious activity.

  • [Avatar for Former Examiner]
    Former Examiner
    May 10, 2024 09:14 pm

    Mr. Quinn is taking things out of context and twisting realities to force his own views. The examiner did not say anything related to not allowing the application to issue or to examine it in a way that is different than the law and the rules. In fact the examiner explicitly said “I know I cannot refuse to examine the application and I won’t” and went own to say he would allow it as well.

    Mr. Quinn lied multiple times in his articles and then made the issue broader and went on to criticize the office and ask them to investigate the examiner and then advised the company that maybe involved to take action.

    I think Quinn needs to chill, it was merely a human expressing his moral values not even political and saying that despite his feelings, he would still do his job

  • [Avatar for John G.]
    John G.
    May 10, 2024 04:29 pm

    When I was an examiner, I watched out for those participants in the Council of Trent. I was extra hard on those associated with Wallachian dining practices.

  • [Avatar for Amy]
    Amy
    May 10, 2024 04:20 pm

    Mr Quinn simply lies about the fact. If you see the original post, the examiner replied to other commenters that “we don’t reject based on our belief but based on prior art”. Why does he intentionally remove that reply?

    Also, in the original post, he said “[he] would allow this case”, i.e., he did not state, or even imply, that he would refuse to examine it, or refuse to allow it based on his moral objection or belief.

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 10, 2024 04:10 pm

    The USPTO officially retired SAWS in 2015. Yes, that was nearly ten years ago, water under the bridge, right?

    Because patent terms runs 20 years from filing date, +/- the effects of PTA or TDs, inventors whose notice of allowances were pulled in 2015, 2012, 2008, etc., under SAWS are still impacted by their lost patent rights.

    Even though it was retired nearly ten years ago, SAWS still matters and the collective mindset behind SAWS perpetuates a long SAWS-shadow on the agency.

  • [Avatar for Gene Quinn]
    Gene Quinn
    May 10, 2024 01:20 pm

    This seems like a great thing!!!! Proud of these examiners!!!

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 10, 2024 01:06 pm

    Was the SAWS program retired in 2015?

    See US SN 15/658,121 filed July 24, 2017 and under examination through 2020. With no priority claim, this application did not overlap with the pre-2015 SAWS program.

    SAWS disproportionately targeted individuals and small entity inventors. The ‘121 application was filed as a micro entity by US pro se inventor Hessing-Roper.

    The title clearly would have raised SAWS red flags: “Apparatus machinery for moveable expanding mechanism to receive nuclear weapons missiles, other weapon, or cut, sever nuclear warheads or disarm them or relocate or send back nuclear weapons to their country of origin.”

    In the two non-final and two final office actions, the ‘121 claims were variously rejected under 35 USC 112 1st and 2nd. With each office action, the serial one sentence prior art rejection was of the format that all pending claims were rejected under 35 USC 102(a)(1) as being anticipated by Streetman et al (US 4,573,396), or by Blankenship (US 6,978,708) or by Reid (US 2003/0010183) with no further explanation. Because new prior art was cited each time, the examiner articulated no need to respond to applicant’s prior arguments.

    Applicant filed nine Appeal Briefs before any Examiner’s Answer was written. The PTAB affirmed the 112(b) and 112(a) written description rejection, but reversed the 102 rejection for not stating a specific basis for rejecting any claim.

    Applicants’ requests for rehearing have been denied and the application is now involved in court proceedings.

    The ‘121 application is drawn to subject matter which raises national security concerns, a topic once flagged under SAWS. Non SAWS-flagged applications are generally not examined this way.

    Applications filed by some Chinese entities are not examined this way either, even ones that raise clear national security concerns.

    In fact, ‘121 was rejected by the same examiner who allowed US Patent No. 11,732,999, directed to an Erection Device and Method for Marine Hot Launch of Rocket, to Ludong University, Yantai China following a speedy 28 day exam.

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/julie-burke-492264120_erection-device-and-method-for-marine-hot-activity-7190099432028229632-vW7u?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 10, 2024 12:48 pm

    When a patent examiner has a question about an application, they are encouraged to contact their SPE and/or QAS for assistance.

    SPEs and QASs work with patent examiners to help make many important decisions each day. The USPTO trains their managers, including SPEs and QASs, on how to work as a team to make those decisions.

    In 2014, here is the mandatory team building exercise that my “team” of GS15 and SES personnel, participated in. What criteria should be used to select winners and losers? I walked out in objection. My decision to leave that room amounted to career suicide.

    In contrast, USPTO managers who participated, supported or were complicit with these 2014-era activities have been retained/protected/promoted. Many are still listed in the org charts. They continue to help set the tone at America’s Innovation Agency and help examiners make decisions and pick IP winners and losers.

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:7120040290433867776?updateEntityUrn=urn%3Ali%3Afs_feedUpdate%3A%28V2%2Curn%3Ali%3Aactivity%3A7120040290433867776%29

  • [Avatar for An Examiner]
    An Examiner
    May 10, 2024 12:42 pm

    Re: Julie

    “Up til 2015, all new patent examiners received formal, required training on the SAWS program in the patent training academy. ”

    2015 is now almost 10 years ago, and that program is no longer around. This means the thousands of examiners who have onboarded since then did not receive this training.

    Also, we were not really trained to use SAWS as a way to confront morally or ethically objectionable applications. It was promoted for applications that could be embarrassing to the PTO should they issue (such as inventions that appeared to cover ubiquitous technologies like iPods). We were instructed to notify our SPE about the “sensitive” application and then the case would be whisked away on a virtual conveyer belt to some secret office where shadowy, unknown figures would designate it as sensitive or not without any consultation with the primary examiner on the application. At least that’s the picture that filtered down to us when it was all said and done. Whatever SAWS was (or wasn’t), we deserved better than that to do our jobs effectively.

  • [Avatar for Breeze]
    Breeze
    May 10, 2024 12:31 pm

    “Yes, PTO APJs are three cuts or so below second year associates,…”

    I think the most disappointing thing about the APJ’s is not that they are “three cuts or so below second year associates,” it’s the ease with which they were all co-opted into the “affirm at all costs” culture that pervades the PTAB. And the “invalidate at all costs” culture that exists in the post grant group.

    Seeing PTAB decisions where the APJ’s robotically insert form paragraphs as “responses” to factually and legally supported arguments from applicants/patentees is beyond disappointing.

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 10, 2024 12:14 pm

    Re: “To my knowledge, as an examiner (though not speaking for the Office in any official capacity), we have not received any training on what to do when an invention comes across our desks to which we object morally or ethically.”

    Up til 2015, all new patent examiners received formal, required training on the SAWS program in the patent training academy. The SAWS presentation instructed examiners and their SPEs to flag for delay, denial and extra scrutiny applications that they believed contained politically charged subject matter or subject matter that may raise legal or ethical objections.

    Much of current USPTO management were examiners or SPEs during the SAWS regime.

    Patent Examiner Snoo_86350 is likely in trouble today because they simply said the quiet part out loud.

    https://www.linkedin.com/posts/julie-burke-492264120_excerpts-from-tc1600-saws-memo-2008-activity-7194729200262524929-mLvS?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

  • [Avatar for Zdawg]
    Zdawg
    May 10, 2024 11:19 am

    Just to add, don’t forget there’s MANY trolls on Reddit, and the examiner thread is no different. Half of the posts are deleted immediately, but some slip through the cracks. Not to say this is a troll, but I don’t think it should be ruled out.

  • [Avatar for An Examiner]
    An Examiner
    May 10, 2024 09:43 am

    Mr Quinn, you’re making all kinds of dramatic generalizations about the “underbelly” of the PTO despite little evidence of wrongdoing in this Reddit discussion. The examiner stated that they had “mixed feelings”, but did not state, or even imply, that they would treat case differently, refuse to examine it, or refuse to allow it based on a moral objection. Based on the screen shot, the vast majority of examiners gave solid advice — do the job impartially, and if you can’t, try to get the case transferred to another examiner.

    I want to make one other note. Historically patent examiners and judges have used moral discretion when deciding whether allow or deny patents. Patents are authorized by the Constitution to promote “useful” Arts. SCOTUS and lower courts have repeatedly interpreted the meaning of “useful” in the context of contemporary morals and ethics of society. The Atomic Energy Act of 1946 barred obtaining a patent on fission materials for atomic weapons). The AIA of 2011 bars inventions related to human cloning. Patents related to genes, abortion, stem cells, etc., have always been thorny topics both judicially and legislatively.

    It’s only fairly recently (the last 10-15 years) that the Federal Circuit has clarified that the utility requirement not be concerned with the moral or ethical nature of an invention. To my knowledge, as an examiner (though not speaking for the Office in any official capacity), we have not received any training on what to do when an invention comes across our desks to which we object morally or ethically. I can assure you that the vast majority of us do our jobs impartially with the understanding that 1) we lack the expertise to police society, and 2) we are generally insulated from legal or political implications of our decision making, and so we face little chance of repercussion from granting a patent to an immoral or ethically objectionable invention. Thanks for reading!

  • [Avatar for Former Examiner]
    Former Examiner
    May 10, 2024 08:54 am

    There are certainly cultural issues at the USPTO around allowing applications. Many SPEs and primary examiners reviewing juniors work won’t allow the junior to allow applications despite there being no art and argument that meets the preponderance legal standard. Many examiners are afraid of the quality department and would rather reject than potentially be given an error from there. I met an examiner who would only allow so many applications a bi-week because it “felt wrong” to allow more than that number.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    Anon
    May 10, 2024 08:29 am

    The quality on bith sides has gone down the drain, some applications, if they arent AI generated, are absolute garbage and yet still get allowed which makes litigation awful. The entire patent system needs an overhaul by people who understand it but dont have a direct stake in it (read: not the average politician or whichever high profile litigator donates (read: pays) enough to be appointed director of the USPTO.

    One point to the statement about examiners allowing after a certain amount of time, examiners should be given more time, its my understanding they get around a day to 2 days average for nonfinals. Perfectly fine in some case but in the more advanced arts good luck. Things probably average out same as on the drafting and prosecution side but I know ive had cases that take no time at all and others that im trying to piece together what the applicant wants and make heads or tails of it.

  • [Avatar for Anon]
    Anon
    May 10, 2024 08:13 am

    Given Julie Burke’s comment below, and the apparent inability to handle even a simple item as correcting the Court’s mess of patent eligibility (Trojan Horses abound), I have to come to the conclusion that Congress is captured by certain stakeholders who prefer NOT to have a strong innovation protection system.

  • [Avatar for Lisa S.]
    Lisa S.
    May 10, 2024 06:21 am

    Wow. Being formerly in the ranks, I know they have their opinions and that some even confess to purposefully not reading an ounce of a specification, but this is worse. I agree that this person should be found and dealt with. “If the self-identified examiner who posted this initial question actually exists, they will be easy to find if the Office wants to identify the individual. There can’t be that many examiners who are reviewing Israeli military technology in Art Units not typically assigned to undertake such work.” And that have PhDs.

  • [Avatar for Malibu Moon Baby]
    Malibu Moon Baby
    May 10, 2024 12:03 am

    This is Exhibit ZZ for the “one and done” rule: if the examiner fails to recognize right answer when told in the first OA response, appeal. Yes, PTO APJs are three cuts or so below second year associates, but still, three must sign on to affirming perfectly rancid rejections. Appeal every rejection including those of dependent claims and you’ll most likely emerge with more than the pajama-clad examiner was willing to allow.

  • [Avatar for Curious]
    Curious
    May 9, 2024 09:26 pm

    Not to excuse anything done (or not) by an Examiner, but I think they are only following the lead of their (supposed) betters.

    Any reasonable evaluation of APJs at the PTAB yields a conclusion that some (many) have anti-patent bents that infiltrate their decisions. The same can be said about District Court judges, judges and the Federal Circuit, and Supreme Court judges. If those judges get to determine patentability based upon their gut feelings, why can’t an Examiner do the same?

  • [Avatar for Julie Burke]
    Julie Burke
    May 9, 2024 04:34 pm

    “The USPTO has an examiner problem, and everyone in the industry has known about it for a very long time.”

    So has the Department of Congress OIG, yet America’s Innovation Agency remains impervious to oversight:

    https://www.oversight.gov/sites/default/files/oig-reports/DOC/OIG-22-010-I.pdf

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *