Telework: How much did you work? Nobody Knows!

By Dennis Crouch

In another seeming bombshell for the Patent Office, the Washington Post has published a 2012 internal USPTO memorandum on telework fraud. Lisa Rein from the post writes:

Some of the 8,300 patent examiners, about half of whom work from home full time, repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in, and many were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do. And when supervisors had evidence of fraud and asked to have the employee’s computer records pulled, they were rebuffed by top agency officials, ensuring that few cheaters were disciplined, investigators found.

Oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was “completely ineffective,” investigators concluded.

Further, the report indicates that “USPTO management demonstrates reluctance to take decisive action when the misconduct is egregious and the evidence is compelling.” At the time, the USPTO was led by Director Kappos.

The original report was then substantially tamed-down (with the most damning elements removed) before it was provided to the DOC Office of the Inspector General. Based on the evidence found in the secret original document, the OIG has indicated that it will now launch a probe of the USPTO’s workforce quality control.

Production versus Hours: The facts here are disturbing. However, one underlying assumption of the report is that we should be looking to the hours-worked by examiners rather than focusing on whether the work is completed (i.e., production).  Examiner production is closely monitored and measured on a bi-weekly basis and there is no sense in the industry that examiners can avoid those production quotas without major repercussions.

 

160 thoughts on “Telework: How much did you work? Nobody Knows!

  1. With an element of sarcasim and seriousness and working off another great idea from another on this site, lets just get rid current production measures and how the PTO currently balances production/quality…and go to an hourly billing of applicants like attorneys have. Currently lets say an average senior examiner gets 14 hrs/BD (balanced disposal, basically one case start to finish). If he makes makes $100k with an average 2000 hrs/year, he is paid $50/hr for 142 case start to finish costing PTO $700 to examine each regardless of complexitiy, issuess or how much applicant helps or hinders. Reduce filing fees and allow examiners to just bill applicant’s $75/hr everytime they pick up the case. Attnys would certainly cut to the chase rather than try to explain to their clients why they owe PTO $2000 in examination fees.

    1. Not bad, Bill.

      Also pay the examiners for hows actually worked on a to a maximum, where that maximum is adjusted according to the number of dispositions.

      Also, we need some system that accurately and automatically tracks how long an examiner actually works on a case.

      1. Who cares how long an examiner “actually works on a case”? If the examiner finds the closest prior art in 5 minutes (as some here claim they do), what would you have the examiner do? spend another couple hours flipping through less close prior art? The idea that the amount of time an examiner spends on the case is somehow related to the quality of the examination is silly. What matters is whether, and when, the examiner finds the closest prior art, and whether, and when, the examiner identifies any legally proper grounds for rejection/objection. Who gives a rat’s behind how long that takes?

    2. Wrong.

      Flat goals for all examiners. X BD’s/year based on the art they examine and their GS level. Straight bonus for exceeding the goal (e.g. they produce 10% more BD’s, they get 10% more time). No OT.

      Nobody who knows anything about patent examination and prosecution cares, or even should care, about how many hours examiners are spending staring at their computer monitors, how much time they are spending on each application, how much time they are spending on each count, etc. Keep giving them counts for FAOM’s, abandonments, examiner’s answers, and allowances. Any and everything else they do (e.g. second action non-finals, re-opening prosecution, etc.) is on their time.

      Get rid of the useless “Administrative SPE’s” who do nothing but review time sheets and other such unnecessary tasks, and a lot of the otherwise generally useless SPE’s. Send them all back to examining. And give them their flat goal and the same deal as all the other examiners.

  2. There is a running joke in books by Charles Stross, an award winning author. A secret agent takes orders from top, but is nominally reporting into to lower middle management bean-counter types who take their job seriously and somehow believe the agent has to obey the normal rules. These middle management types are always making a fuss about expense reports, hours on the job, demanding to know where the agent was, why did they miss the meeting scheduled for so and so, etc. It is hilarious.

    The hullabaloo here is sounds like a tragic-comic Charles Stross novel.

    1. With the larger exception Ned that the examienrs are NOT secret agents, and that the examienrs are largely NOT serving the higher aims that would be stymied by the following of protocols.

      In this sense, your observations – while perhaps humorous – are off base.

  3. This is a terrible reflection on the USPTO. Unrealistic time for examination and the pressure to meet quotas for years have denigrated what used to be one of the better patent offices of the world.

    I see where now why the Examining Corps (the bad ones not the good ones) raises their nonsensical APA (admitted prior art) rejections. Most likely they occur on a Thursday night before the end of the current biweekly. Quick trigger fingers gets them RCE fees which means more money to waste on phantom overtime. Ugh!

    Moving them back to Alexandria will not work for not only is there not enough space but the use of hoteling and telecommuting saves the PTO many millions each year in rent. Office space is cheap in Detroit, as well as Benghazi, just ask Hilary.

    Production quotas for many examiners whose technical acumen lies far afield from the TC in which they work is absurd at best. So too is the target of two decisions a week for APJs working in appeals morass of the PTAB, when it takes a day or two to figure out the inane and asinine rejections raised by the small group of examiners about whom the article is written.

    1. APA rejection is direct from KSR. The worst thing to happen to the patent system is not using TSM. That was an objective test where you could tell if the examiner was doing their job. Now rejections are ’cause, ’cause, and more ’cause.

      TSM and machine or transformations were tests for 600,000 applications a year not the several that the Supremees (who are completely ignorant of science and modern philosophy) look at a year.

    2. Frankly I don’t get it. If you tell examiners they need to earn so many points to keep their job, then let them work in whatever way they want. The PTO needs a way to measure the quality of their work separately then hours logged.

      Seems suspicious to me that we have these bad stories coming out about the PTO. Probably politics. So, who gains from this? They are probably behind getting the papers to publish it.

      1. NWPA,

        You ask good questions that should be asked. Why are these stories breaking now? Who stands to gain and who stands to lose? There is no doubt that politics are involved (when are they not?).

        On the flip side, we finally have the spotlight where it has been needed to have been all along. Let’s take this opportunity to re-engineer an obviously broken system. We see that the demand for patent protection remains – even as the efforts to weaken patents from the Left and from the Right are underway. Since we have that demand, we do need to engineer a system that is capable of processing that demand.

        There is no question that trade-offs will be required. Even Lemley noted such.

        But to move forward, we need to not only re-engineer the system, we need to make perfectly clear the goals of the system.

        First and foremost is that the system provide strong patent protection.

        We cannot lose sight of that priority.

      2. “The PTO needs a way to measure the quality of their work separately then hours logged.”

        There is a way, but as the report indicates the SPEs (and I guess the primaries) beg off from doing that because it requires too much work. And of course it actually does require substantial work.

        Not to even mention that the primary’s (and worse still, sometimes the spe’s) work itself could use a good going over ughhhhhhh. They “grew up” in a qualityless environment, who can blame them for that?

        1. They “grew up” in a qualityless environment, who can blame them for that?

          LOL – yet more fixation with “blame.”

          One need not blame anyone to realize the problem, or its systemic nature – to realize that just throwing MORE resources at the problem is NOT a viable answer – and to call for a re-engineering of the entire system.

          What is with you and your preoccupation with “blame” 6? You have some tremendous guilt going on in the background of your own psyche? Have you discussed this with your doctor?

          1. “and to call for a re-engineering of the entire system.”

            Fine, I’ll bite, throw out your suggestion.

            I’ll say up front though that I disagree most likely. Frankly I don’t think that is at all warranted. I think what simply needs to be done is to re-organize the quality training and have massive testing (but all that requires scarce resources).

            Currently the training focuses on technicalities that are tough to understand, largely irrelevant for the bulk of apps, and puts no emphasis (which should be nearly the entire emphasis) on understanding the fundamentals of things like: what claims are, what our role is as fact finders, how to find facts regardless of the application in front of you or what the application is about, claim construction, the best way to handle claim construction disputes and how to spot them (mandate that they be worked out with the applicant instead of sitting around rejecting claims solely because of x construction that could and would be easily amended), whether applicant is entitled to a patent and the ramifications of this making the whole system an entitlement program, what the whole point of, and what the nature is of what WD/indefinite rejections are, etc. etc. All of those things are fundamental to quality and yet you’ll never hear a word about them in “training”. And even if you do about some few of them, it will be a throw-away line that is not emphasized.

            “What is with you and your preoccupation with “blame” 6? ”

            Brosef, you don’t understand what a preoccupation is. But it’s ok, I guess you’re working on it.

              1. “I’ve thrown out many suggestions many times, brosef.”

                Yeah figured you didn’t have anything new.

                “You want the detailed solution? That will cost.”

                Lulz. You can keep ur secrits. Nobody cares about them one whit.

            1. Brosef, you don’t understand what a preoccupation is.

              LOL – All I have to do is look at you.

              You are a fine example of an obsessed and preoccupied lemming.

              1. “LOL – All I have to do is look at you.

                You are a fine example of an obsessed and preoccupied lemming.”

                See? You just don’t understand them.

                But I mean, on the other hand, the psy cho pathic psy cho olo gist we say on Big Think the other day didn’t even recognize his own disability and he knows all the symptoms backwards and forwards I’m sure.

    3. Regarding the PTAB, they need to temporarily reassign 1000 or more senior examiners to the PTAB to decide appeals. The would slow down examinations, but it would or should deal with the backlog of appeals in months.

    4. “I see where now why the Examining Corps (the bad ones not the good ones) raises their nonsensical APA (admitted prior art) rejections. Most likely they occur on a Thursday night before the end of the current biweekly. Quick trigger fingers gets them RCE fees which means more money to waste on phantom overtime. Ugh!”

      If the rejection(s) based on APA is no good, why are you filing an RCE?

      “Production quotas for many examiners whose technical acumen lies far afield from the TC in which they work is absurd at best.”

      Huh? What? Most examiners start out having no particular knowledge of the art they examine. They learn the prior art by examining cases. And by consulting with more experienced examiners in that art on search strategies and techniques.

      “So too is the target of two decisions a week for APJs working in appeals morass of the PTAB, when it takes a day or two to figure out the inane and asinine rejections raised by the small group of examiners about whom the article is written.”

      If the rejections are inane and asinine, how hard is it to write a decision reversing “for the reasons set forth by appellant”? All I’d have to do is churn out two of those per week? From the comfort of my home? Where do I sign up?

  4. So, were they saying that they had written OAs they didn’t write, or saying it took them longer to write than it did?

    1. Neither. The allegation is simply that they got done with their work faster than normal and then were not “teleworking” for the rest of the day/week then put down normal hours on the timesheet. Though there are some other misc. allegations as well.

          1. You should read it – the gaming of the system has far too many untoward side effects to simply let rampant.

            When one understands law, one appreciates law – even down to how the examiners are “grifting” the system.

            And lovely AOOTWMD 6 – oh, holder of some 75% of words on this thread.

            1. Anon I care about the topics, and importantly making this legit for the betterment of the office. Not throwing blame and and wanting to “eradicate this large scale fraud” or whatever.

              I know you’re a psy chopath so you probably can’t tell the difference.

              1. You need to do a better job then of posting in accord with your desire for “making this legit for the betterment of the office” because you have not yet put forth a cognitive position to that effect.

                You might start with explaining what exactly is the “this” that you are trying to make legit. The article you linked too is well beyond the state of a governmental, unionized, workforce, and the negative sides far outweigh the positive sides – as is being made evidently clear, here.

                Open your eyes son – you have deal with facts – even if it is I that presents them to you – link to en.wikipedia.org

                You have been far too busy with throwing blame everywhere else (and whether or not you think this is just me, well, therein lie your psy chopathy)

              2. ““making this legit for the betterment of the office” because you have not yet put forth a cognitive position to that effect.”

                Hmmmm:

                “Nothing suggests “it” is worth eradicating at all. Everything suggests “it” is worth legitimizing. Literally every single office indicator indicates exactly that, saving only perhaps the RCE backlog. And the RCE backlog itself probably indicates it (for not being worse).”

                “You might start with explaining what exactly is the “this” that you are trying to make legit.”

                I could, but I already spent most of the thread doing that. I guess you blacked out.

                ” The article you linked too is well beyond the state of a governmental, unionized, workforce, and the negative sides far outweigh the positive sides – as is being made evidently clear, here.”

                Yeah, you assert that regularly but I’ve found it to be unsubstantiated and thus ignore you. The “link” between the phenomena just isn’t there. Sure, some people have bad quality etc. But they aren’t magically going to have better quality etc because you force them to sit at their desk. It’s just not going to happen. Sorry. Quality etc. all need addressing separately.

                And I’m not further discussing it with your OCPD ar se.

              3. I could, but I already spent most of the thread doing that. I guess you blacked out.

                Not at all – I am telling you that what you think you have been saying has only come across as mewling shift-the-blame. You simply don’t care to listen.

                I am giving you the benefit of feedback and telling you that your message has NOT come across in a cognitively recognized way.

                It is up to you – if you really care enough – to try again. Or you can take your typical lazy way out and just vom1t out your med-control line of B$.

                Again – you choosing to make this an “anon said” type of thing does not change the facts that your many many many words here simply do not support the message that you think that you are giving.

                Not discussing further..? LOL – you have not yet begun (regardless of the vom1tfest). That you don’t want to see this is yet another symptom that you might want to discuss with your doctor.

              4. “I am giving you the benefit of feedback and telling you that your message has NOT come across in a cognitively recognized way.”

                Anon, I never expect my message to come across in a cognitively recognized way to the resident psy chopath/OCPDer. There just isn’t enough empathy from ya in order for this to be accomplished regularly.

                I don’t anymore anyway. I used to. But I don’t now :( I understand your maladies too well now.

                But I guess thanks for the “feedback”.

                ” Or you can take your typical lazy way out and just vom1t out your med-control line of B$.”

                Thanks for providing that opportunity for resolution anon. I will avail myself of that option. It really is so rare that you present us with the opportunity for resolution, and it is delightful.

              5. I never expect my message to come across in a cognitively recognized way to…

                …anyone – fixed your statement to accord with your rants.

                You are welcome.

        1. “They did their OAs and got their counts, so who cares.”

          Some investigator g e n eral or some such, I don’t remember. Oh, and anon. He cares also. It’s him and the investigator g e n eral.

          Oh, and since they’re making a fuss the management is going to jump through some hoops.

  5. Michelle Lee just sent me a nice little broadcast message assuaging the troops about the telework program and the recent media attention.

    Likewise she says they’ll be working with POPA.

    She thanks us all for our efforts towards promoting innovation.

    1. To she remember to include that there are other incentives besides patents for innovation?

  6. I think that the people on this are so mean. Take a breath. If you were face to face none of you would say these horrible thing. Over the Internet though they feel so free to say dehumanizing items. Think about what you are posting.

    1. Title: The Universe has an End.

      Spec. as filed: The number zero as the value of ∞ (infinity).

      Claims as filed:

      1. The Universe has an End: there is the no such thing as
      physical infinity.

      2. The mathematical operation the “division by 0″ is allowed.

      Applicant: lryna Borisovna Shevchenko

    2. In September of 2012, in paragraphs 6 and 8, the inventor said:

      [0006] There is the law of constancy (balance): Where the
      all objects that exist in environment are subjects to the order.
      The any material object may not physically dissapear Without
      leaving some trace or residue and the space.

      [0008] The all objects have the life span When they die,
      leaving the space With unde?ned or undetected matter after
      them; there is also the space reserved for the objects that have
      never existed or Would not exist. The one of main subject of
      science of mathematics is the volume(s) of object.

      However, In 1982, The Boss said:

      “Everything dies baby that’s a fact
      But maybe everything that dies someday comes back”

      Not THAT by friend, is prior Art, with a capitol A!

      link to youtube.com

      1. Hey, Les, when we are dealing with and inventor who is channeling the Infinite, who is to argue? We instead must genuflect and adore.

    3. Ya know, the scariest part of this is that someday, I’m going to get an Office Action that cites this paragraph 7 against claims of some application to show that it was known that vacuum has some properties that we did not learned yet.

    4. You guys have all missed the best part:

      Abstract of the Disclosure = “The “Big Bung!” was not at the beginning of Universe!”.

      “Bung” is not a typo.

  7. I think the Wash Post write up for the most part is good – however, I think that the supervisors in the initial internal report are still engaging in a coverup – they focus on “endloading”, when they know good and well that it is true that this practice was never really stated by management to be against the rules. Even if it preferable that one does not “endload”, I can’t imagine that this is the height of the problems at the USPTO. However, supervisors don’t focus on the number of times that they’ve alleged people were making errors in their work when they were not and how this negatively impacted examination of patents – the Supervisors don’t acknowledge the number of times that they allowed poor performers with weeks if not months of overdue work to not receive poor ratings, and to telework and have other privileges. Focarino and ADCs were aware of these issues for years. But they did nothing about them. Supervisory patent examiners were aware of these problems for years, but they did nothing about them. No managers reported this to the IG. Obama Officials Terry Rea and Dave Kappos seemed to have celebrated Focarino and other managers for their participation in this Waste and abuse. Let’s not be naive and fail to acknowledge that many of the current reports coming out of the IG are politically driven by the Obama administration. The IG investigated the hotelling/telework program in 2009 or 2010 and concluded that it was a well functioning program, even despite the massive evidence that examiners with many overdue cases on their dockets who were probably ineligible to telework, were being permitted to telework. Why don’t we hear about this from the supervisors? The supervisors are angry that Kappos took away their ability for the most part to stop examiners from getting their work out when he instituted the autocount function. Supervisors were using the lack of autocount to go after examiners who did not necessarily have quality problems, but who the supervisors did not like for some other reason.

  8. Some of the 8,300 patent examiners, about half of whom work from home full time, repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in, and many were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do.

    Thank goodness stuff like this never happens in private sector industries like law firms where nobody would ever dare to pad his/her hours for any reason, especially not to obtain reach an “hours billed” goal that would mean more money.

    LOL.

    I guess the main difference between the PTO model and the law firm model is when the associate is “too efficient” the partner can add the “missing” hours to his/her own timesheet. Or the partner can simply tell the associate that some of the associate’s hours can’t be billed (reflecting poorly on the associate) because the important client can’t/won’t pay the actual cost. Of course, the Associate Attorneys Union is always interested in hearing about stuff like this …

    1. Examining and private practice time keeping are pretty similar. If an examiner is getting, for example, 12 hours per count, then the examiner is credited with doing 12 hours worth of work for every count whether it took 12 hours, 24 hours, or 5 minutes. With much of patent prep and pros work at law firms going to fixed fee, attorneys are getting credit for work done regardless of how much time it actually took. If the app is written for a flat fee of $5k and the attorney’s billing rate is $500/hr, then the attorney gets 10 billable hours for writing the app, whether the attorney spent 10 hours, 20 hours or 5 minutes.

      Again, this report is nothing new. The only “new” thing in it, possibly, is the means by which the examiners game the system. Now they’re doing it from home, rather than schlepping to an office every day.

      I’ll say it again, nothing new here, everybody move along.

  9. So, are these complainers (likely originating from disgruntled patent attorneys and agents) for FACETIME instead of PRODUCTION?

    Perhaps they prefer the way law firms do it- by billing in hourly time -often with little relation to what is being produced.

    No measurement system is perfect, but the production measurement system (with a quality component) is much better if what you want is the actual work being done, and not just measuring time a body sits in front of the computer.

    1. The problem Christine (as evidenced in several recent threads) is that the production measurement system (with a quality component) is NOT getting “the actual work being done.”

      It’s kind of an important point to keep in mind when the nonsense answer of “just throw more bodies at it” is put up as “an answer.”

    2. If you work at the PTO and you read the article carefully you’d see that the “whistle blowers”/complainers were 4 SPEs that wanted to fire examiners but were not allowed to so they complained (SPEs want to fire lower producing examiners because SPEs are judged themselves by the production of the examiners in the art unit).

  10. As some have noted, there simply isn’t enough room on the Alexandra campus to end teleworking and bring everyone back in-house. Or is there? GSA could requisition a thousand or so FEMA trailers and put them in local parking lots. Presto! Teleworking situation resolved. Not that this would increase productivity or quality, but that’s not what the Post article was about.

      1. Provided the examiners in question were able to make their production and at sufficiently high levels of quality, then I think that should be the end of the inquiry. No corruption here, anymore than there is when an engineer at Google decides to do some of his work related thinking at the local Starbucks instead of inside his cubicle. The Post story never addresses the matter of production, or the computer systems in place that monitor it, making actual fraud (getting paid for doing nothing) very very difficult to pull off. Perhaps the more useful story would have been one that discusses how the PTO came up with all those production numbers in the first place, and how detached the hours provided per count are from the actual requirements of the job.

        1. “Perhaps the more useful story would have been one that discusses how the PTO came up with all those production numbers in the first place, and how detached the hours provided per count are from the actual requirements of the job.”

          That’s a pretty boring story. Heard it a million times and isn’t really news.

        2. and at sufficiently high levels of quality

          LOL – that’s just it – your “if” is a fail.

          Further, even IF high quality was obtained, you still have to deal with actual rules and laws being followed.

          no corruption here

          Your head is in deep.

          1. “Further, even IF high quality was obtained, you still have to deal with actual rules and laws being followed.”

            He technically doesn’t. Management does. And if they choose to “deal with actual lawls and rules being followed” by turning their heads then … meh. Who am I to naysay their management style? They’re not OCPD like you anon, they’re not overly preoccupied with rules and lawls.

            1. “Technically” is where you need to reassess your understanding of what responsibility means.

              This is not “overly preoccupied” – it is understanding what the rules and law are for in the first place.

              Your lack of understanding (and lack of caring about that understanding) runs deep.

        3. Egon –

          Read a few “Office Actions”. Many of them are almost incoherent and clearly assembled by pasting together claim language and form paragraphs with the occasional insertion of paragraph numbers of paragraphs from the cited document than include one or two words in common with the claim. Such Office Actions can be slapped together in 45 minutes or less. Office Actions are supposed to be the result of 20 hours or so of review and analysis. They seldom are, but are used as evidence of such. It is clear that managers and signing primary examiners seldom read the Office Actions they are signing. Apparently all that is done is that pages are flipped through to verify that the document looks like an office action.

          Accordingly, “meeting production” with such documents is evidence of nothing.

          1. “Office Actions are supposed to be the result of 20 hours or so of review and analysis”

            Idk who told you that, avg OA prep time should be like 11-12 hrs for a FAOM and then 8-9 hrs for the final with an hour or so left over in my AU and ones of avg time like mine. Some should take like 5 hrs. Others should take like 20 hrs. Maybe. Though I’m always rather skeptical about those “arts”.

            1. 11 + 9 = 20
              12 + 8 = 20

              Maybe that’s where I got if from.

              Not enough time to do the job right, for sure. But enough time to do a better job than we see, we think.

          2. REALITY

            1. A big chunk of the work involves IBM, Apple, Toshiba, et al. Who have highly qualified lawyers. PRIVATIZE that part.

            2. Honk if you’ve caught a major error in an OA (incorrect spellings, incorrect attributions, major cut-and-paste).

            3. Honk if you’ve called a Congressperson with evidence of major USPTO cut-and-paste on an OA, just so the PE can party.

            USPTO union thinks this is some kind of joke. Well, just wait, bozos, you’re about to get a wake up call.

            Why aren’t teleworkers doing Video Skype? Why isn’t PAIR and EFS data given to WashPost?

            B.S. is B.S., and there is plenty here. And USPTO union, if you don’t like it, go find new jobs. You, like everyone, can be replaced.

            1. “2. Honk if you’ve caught a major error in an OA (incorrect spellings, incorrect attributions, major cut-and-paste).”

              How are incorrect spellings, attributions and some cut and paste a “major error”?

              “Honk if you’ve called a Congressperson with evidence of major USPTO cut-and-paste on an OA, just so the PE can party.”

              What’s wrong with all this cut and paste?

              “USPTO union thinks this is some kind of joke. Well, just wait, bozos, you’re about to get a wake up call.”

              Well we could always go back to the short forms to help out id iots like yourself.

              “You, like everyone, can be replaced.”

              But they can’t all be replaced all at once.

              1. What’s wrong with all this cut and paste?

                Good question.

                If done properly and as part of the Office Action (read that as not a substitute for real examination), there is nothing wrong with cut and paste. Unfortunately, how cut and paste is often applied in Office Actions appears to be that examiners use the cut and paste incorrectly, either as mere filler, as slapped together with references that merely use a key word (regardless of any context or meaning) or other plainly egregious error.

                Thanks for asking.

                But they can’t all be replaced all at once.

                Don’t be too sure of that. More than one registration-type system has been bandied about.

        4. Yep. Moreover, since bonuses are tied to production (110%-130%) and the bonus does not necessitate a corresponding 10-30% percent increase in examination time, TIME has never really been the countable metric.

      2. “large scale corruption”?

        You missed the part about all those allegations being “unsubstantiated”. That’s why D didn’t make a huge fuss over them in his article.

        “worthy of eradicating”

        Nothing suggests “it” is worth eradicating at all. Everything suggests “it” is worth legitimizing. Literally every single office indicator indicates exactly that, saving only perhaps the RCE backlog. And the RCE backlog itself probably indicates it (for not being worse).

        If you eradicate it you risk losing all the gains David K worked so hard to achieve. Are you willing to flip that coin for your OCPD anon?

        1. (sigh)

          You need to recognize the “legalese” of what that “unsubstantiated” means 6 – as I already noted, it does NOT mean that you can merely dismiss it.

          1. “already noted, it does NOT mean that you can merely dismiss it.”

            Actually “we” (mgmt) likely can “merely dismiss it” anyway regardless of whether it was unsubstantiated, substantiated, proven entirely or unproven. And you know why? Because 0 legal remedy/injury + executive power = amazing things. But if they’re going to make a big stink then it’ll be time for them to do something.

            I certainly can merely dismiss it as I have no responsibility for it.

          2. Unsubstantiated also doesn’t mean “outright large scale corruption” you alleged earlier.

            Who stated “unsubstantiated” means “merely dismissed” anyway? I know, you did (assumed an argument not presented). Got both sides covered don’t you?

            Embrace logic…don’t be an agenda hack.

            1. Unsubstantiated also doesn’t mean “outright large scale corruption” you alleged earlier.

              LOL _ the rest of the picture – and all the items together – DOES mean outright large scale corruption.

              Pay attention.

              As to “who stated” – my apologies if that was not what you meant – but you should be aware that that is how it came across (see 6’s use as well).

        2. If you eradicate it you risk losing all the gains David K worked so hard to achieve. Are you willing to flip that coin for your OCPD anon?

          You need to read (again? for the first time?) your own linked article 6 – you are not understanding what that article is actually presenting.

          1. “You need to read (again? for the first time?) your own linked article 6 – you are not understanding what that article is actually presenting.”

            I understand everything in that article one gazillion times better than you do ps yc chopath boy.

  11. Mortgaging and end-loading were going on when I was at the PTO long before hoteling was an option. The only difference is that back in the day when you actually had to show up to the office in Crystal City the mortgagers and end-loaders were out of the office going to the movies or the gym, or they were in the office running their side businesses (e.g. tax return preparation, home contracting, etc.). But it was understood that if you did 110+% you got the obligatory “record breaking outstanding quality” rating and the bonus that came along with it, or if you got some extra counts through FWC’s, CPA’s, and then RCE’s and you wanted to claim some overtime to bring your production down a few percent (because why be over 110% if that’s all you need for the bonus?) then you could come into the office and sign in and then watch some tv in your office, or do some work on your side business, or head over to CCR for lunch, or whatever.

    Nothing new in this report. Everybody move along.

    1. Maybe this time around, we can try to clean it up…

      (you know, put the focus of patent reform where it has long needed it: re-engineering the examination system)

      (btw, GA lashes out with a “Crimes are being committed here [by examiner fraud]. This is not an investigation just for the Commerce Department Inspector General, but also for the Federal Bureau of Investigations“)

    2. Once more – for the ge + ne filter…

      Maybe this time around, we can try to clean it up…

      (you know, put the focus of patent reform where it has long needed it: re-engineering the examination system)

      (btw, GA lashes out with a “Crimes are being committed here [by examiner fraud]. This is not an investigation just for the Commerce Department Inspector Ge neral, but also for the Federal Bureau of Investigations“)

  12. I went through this years ago, with 6 and especially the Mooney poster. No surprise here. Rescission of Kennedy’s relevant presidential orders should be the first order of business.

  13. This report makes for an interesting contrast to those patent attorneys who consider patents issued by any individual examiner too sacrosanct to ever be re-examined by anyone in the PTO [i.e., to only be considered by lay jurors who can’t read claims or technical publications] even if killer prior art the examiner missed is submitted in an interference, reexamination, IPR, CBM or PRG.

    1. …or, if you are going to go in your direction, eliminate examination altogether and for a fraction of the BILLION dollar innovation tax system currently in place, create a much better quick-look-up and cross-reference system.

  14. 6, please, stop. I’m begging you. I’m on my hands and knees begging you to stop posting.

    So, another XMNR here (cool little abbreviation huh?)

    Can we all agree that there are shitty, noncompliant lazy turds on both sides of the fence? Having been on both, I totally see it.

    I know examiners who sound kinda like the examiners listed in that report. I also worked with an attorney back on the outside who didn’t know what an enablement rejection was, and another who thought the examiners weren’t allowed to cite NPL as references, and one tried to overcome a Chinese 102A reference with a 103C exclusion.

    Point is, there are flaming bags of poop on both sides, they’re in the vast minority, and it’s the only patent system we got, so deal with all its eccentricities or stop filing patents.

    1. …because it is by law and we EXPECT examiners to actually do their jobs.

      See the possible path available if we were to follow your cynicism at post 20.2

  15. So are examiners now going to be permitted to document the voluntary overtime they work? How about the time they spend waiting for the unbearably slow network to load the next page of the documents they are trying to read?

    1. All that you are getting 6 is dusty shoes.

      You completely ignore the “maybe none” aspects of the linked article, and completely ignore the opposite effects as shown by the investigation (I am sure that they investigated more than just the four who initiated the concern – yet another rather p1t1ful attempt at deflection.

      How many things like backloading are you too guilty of, 6?

      1. “I am sure that they investigated more than just the four who initiated the concern – yet another rather p1t1ful attempt at deflection”

        Really? What makes you so sure? They don’t seem to have that data put down and they told you exactly what they did. They just said that it was all about the “increasing reports” and the reports were 4 people and they interviewed spes, HR people etc. 4 people who, I assure you, would be glad to have all this made legit. And even if it was more than the 4, those are still people would would be more than glad to have it all made legit. They’re just pissed because people get away with murder and nobody gives two shts. I’m one of those pissed people. But I’m even more pissed that it wasn’t just made legit. As that is what would have happened anyplace but a bureaucracy with a guy like David K in charge. There is literally no reason to chain people to the desk all day (which is another topic but is something else this is about, getting away from the unhealthy desk chair). Even less to have them fiddling with IM everytime they go somewhere. It isn’t like examiners are running a call center. I get, max, 3 phone calls a week. All of them could be returned. I don’t think I’ve ever had a time sensitive email/im. So all this certainly doesn’t mean I don’t think it shouldn’t just be made legit and for us to harness the very benefits of that flexibility legitimately. And of course efforts need to be made on end loading, quality criteria etc.

        1. I’m one of those pissed people

          LOL – sure that shows with your massive dustkicking and blame everyone else efforts here…

          (btw, through 39 posts, 6 has over 80% of the words on this thread…

          Maybe a little more focus on 6 internally, and perhaps a lot less from 6 on these boards soon…)

          1. “sure that shows with your massive dustkicking and blame everyone else efforts here…”

            Oh not true at all, I think all parties should take exactly the “blame” that they are responsible for. Though frankly I doubt if there is much of any “blame” that needs to be dispersed. Maybe some responsibility. You may not have noticed anon, but I’m not OCPD like you.

            “btw, through 39 posts, 6 has over 80% of the words on this thread…”

            Yes, it’s all very near and dear to my heart.

            1. should take exactly the “blame” that they are responsible for

              You use that word [responsible] – but I do not think that you know what that word means.

      2. “How many things like backloading are you too guilty of, 6?”

        Oh brosef I’ve backloaded quite a bit in my day to make the quarter. Though I don’t consider myself “guilty” of that. At the levels of “endloading” I did it was acceptable and still is. And I’ve never gotten into 500% absurd range lol. Nowhere close. These days I don’t really need to end-load at end of quarter though. Still do some bi-weeks tho. As in, get things ultimately finished on count mon (there’s little to be done about that kind of endloading tho as it isn’t usually endloading endloading, as in you just didn’t work, it’s just how the caseflow goes). I give every app their time and then set it aside as allowed or not at the end. That kind of makes stuff go more evenly.

        1. Though I don’t consider myself “guilty” of that

          LOL – of course not, you were just “following orders” or some such lemming nonsense…

          The word of the day – for 6 – responsible.

          1. Nah bro, it just simply isn’t something that you’re “guilty of”. Lots of people spend too much time on apps and end up having to do way more work at the end due to the production system. I’m not exception.

              1. Anon’s old fall back of everyone around him “missing” his “point”.

                Nobody misses your points re re. We voluntarily disregard them because they’re re tar ded.

    2. 6, thanks for the link. It does seem that Kappos knew how to create a happy workforce. That is somewhat necessary because one of the problems the patent office has always had is retaining experience examiners who always seem to want to jump ship to the private sector as soon as they can.

      1. It’s even more necessary than that Ned, if you want everyone doing OT levels of work all the time for years on end and being happy about it.

      2. 6, one tweak that I would add is some additional bonus, perhaps a percentage of one’s salary, for additional work above the bonus level. That would incent people who really wanted to make a lot of money to work as hard as possible.

        I had a union job one summer while in college. I got a salary for the quota, but got an excellent piecework bonus for everything produced above quota. At times, I was able to double or even triple my daily wage rate just by working flat out all day long.

  16. “However, as evidenced by the increasing number of OIG complaints
    regarding time fraud throughout the Patent Corps, some employees are becoming increasingly frustrated by management’s lack of enforcement.”

    I want to get this straight, 4 reports out of 8k examiners means that there is evidence of “increasing numbers” of OIG complaints?

    lololololololololololololololol. I was wondering why it was they were all of a sudden btching. 4 people out of 8k are tots upset that nobody gets punished for accomplishing what the agency wants them to. That’s like the tip end of the dog’s tail wagging the house. Hilarious.

    “In recent years, more and more of the existing controls have been used as bargaining chips with the union to reach agreements on Agency initiatives. ”

    David K had to reach those goals everyone wanted so bad, right? You thought he did it by “magic”? lolololololololololololololol. No, he did it by running the place like a business, rather than a bureaucracy! Well, more like. Not completely like. That was literally his stated goal! He did it, and now you’re btching!

    So many lols so little time!

    “With the USPTO being
    promulgated as both a professional environment and model Federal telework Agency, ”

    The reason it is a “model professional environment and model federal telework agency” is precisely because of the problems they just found! It’s being run like a modern business instead of a bureaucracy!

    SOOOOOOO many lols. David K must be having a hearty lol.

    The funniest part of all this is perhaps that they could just make the whole “David K de facto regime” that they describe as being in place tots legit and the agency would function, if anything, better. And, then you could probably put in the big bro in and nobody would care. That way at least you’d know when they were working.

    Then the person that wrote the report with so much sound and fury would be “o, well I guess there’s that then, guess my report was pretty much for nothing”.

    Hey they even made findings at the end! I’m pretty much in agreement, with some quibbles, so that’s all I’ll say about them.

    “Because such a high percentage of interviewees said that the Quality element does not begin a patent examiner at the Fully Successful level and then earning a rating up or down from there, and that the element is often overlooked and not properly addressed because of the exorbitant amount of effort and time required to address quality issues, this element should be reviewed. ”

    First part isn’t technically true. You start at fully successful, it’s just that the elements for “outstanding” are so easy to meet after you start at fully successful. That is to say, the criteria are really easy to get up to outstanding. Which is probably how it should be, presuming you didn’t f up the baseline quality which is of course what should trip most people up (but doesn’t because of the work required to enforce this). But, that’s part of the bargain made by POPA. Management has to actually manage or else you get outstanding. O noes! O noes! The sky is fallings!

    “Having a robust Quality element is especially important as the SPEs, Directors, and ADCs agreed that holding examiners accountable for Quality is one of the tools that they have to combat time and attendance misconduct. ”

    “Robust” = “subjective”? I prefer the objective criteria that take actual effort on the part of the reviewers. And I’m glad they got them at the negotiating table. One of the few things they’ve done right!

    “Employees should be required to remain active and ensure that their status is up-to-date. ”

    Disagree strongly with that. Mandatory IM presence? T ar ded. We have better things to do than play with the IM (all so that management, once again, doesn’t have to manage). Also, big bro. Can’t have it unless you make all the rest legit. The corps likely just won’t take it. I might not take it.

    He then states that we should be req’d to be “fully successful” each bi-week to be eligible for OT. Um, newsflash, we’re not even rated per bi-week. Guess he just wants to dump that on SPE’s plates as well eh? Newsflash re re, they can’t even be bothered to manage people at a base level, going all “advanced management” all of a sudden like on them isn’t going to happen.

    “the deciding officials in proposed conduct actions, and should not be involved in the case prior to receiving the proposed action and supporting documents. It is important that the deciding officials be unbiased and rely only on what is provided in the proposal package. When the ADC/deciding official is involved in the case throughout the entire process and makes the decision on whether or not evidence can be used, the process becomes tainted. It is recommended that the ADCs delegate the authority to approve records and investigations to Employee Relations Division, who conducts the investigations and can determine what records are necessary for each case. ”

    Disagree with that. The people in HR got no business making management decisions like that. 0. Literally 0.

    “This investigation has found that there is no evidence that employees are afraid of management looking at their records”

    I’m not sure how you missed all that, because they definitely are. Definitely. Lots of them. I’m guessing they didn’t bother to ask more than 2 people.

    “Furthermore, employees are unaware of management’s review of records, unless the review reveals misconduct. ”

    Exactly. Thus, the fear of big brother. What is the re re writing this report not understanding? Has he never seen 1984?

    ” This investigation also revealed that the only time that employees are aware that management has reviewed their records is when they are called into an investigatory meeting to discuss the evidence and any discrepancies or when they receive a disciplinary or adverse action. ”

    Or when they hear about their fellows called in by the big bro after having been singled out.

    “As a federal employee, it is reasonable to assume that the Agency has the means and ability to monitor them to some degree. ”

    Yes, but it isn’t reasonable to expect anyone to like it. I’m not really sure why the author doesn’t understand this. Morale = what they like. Big bro = what they don’t like.

    ” honest employees do not have a reason to fear a records review. ”

    Oh is that right? How do they know they won’t be singled out next just for their spe’s giggles/retribution for x? How do they know how accurate that system is going to be? Since we already know it isn’t accurate (you don’t have to badge out) I’d say there’s reasonable concern about big bro. And even if there was not, he’s still big bro, and we all know you cannot trust big bro under any circumstance. Big bro = cannot trust. Ever. Can’t be trusted. Who knows? Maybe the SPE fudges the file a lil.

    “More importantly, employees use Agency-issued computers, badges, Internet
    connection, and software on a daily basis and have no right to privacy. ”

    Not having a right to privacy does not mean you voluntarily want your privacy violated just because some douse thinks that it should be. I get that this guy is clueless by now, but now he’s going off into never never land.

    “The Agency is well within its legal right to routinely monitor employee activity and use of its equipment and systems. ”

    Legal right, yes. Moral right? Ethical Right? Customary norm right? What’s best for the agency right? I just don’t know about that bro. And neither does the mgmt.

    “It is imperative that the Agency not overlook improper conduct, especially
    time and attendance fraud”

    Well that’s this guy’s subjective opinion at least. In actuality it is probably the opposite in terms of what is best for the agency.

    “If necessary, the Agency should make modifications to the way that
    data is collected and stored”

    True, but that takes money. And lots of it. The system is old. And that’s money that can’t be spent paying OT for, you guessed it, OT production. Money going actually 100% against the agency mission of doing production. That call just doesn’t make business sense. And I assure you that’s why it was not made. Production or the ability to have a stick up your ar se and sabotage the agency mission? Production every time. Hands down. Easy call.

    “Examiners are required to request leave in advance, in writing, except in unforeseen instances or emergencies”

    I’m not even sure if that is technically even true.

    “Currently, many examiners are requesting leave at the end of the bi-week, without having informed their supervisor previously. This is unacceptable and a violation of the leave requesting procedures that are in place. ”

    OH NOES!!!!! It’s unacceptables guys! lol. Pound on the table!

    1. Your lack or real world experience is telling – among the mountains of CRP you are busy shoveling on this storyline.

  17. “However, as evidenced by the increasing number of OIG complaints
    regarding time fraud throughout the Patent Corps, some employees are becoming increasingly frustrated by management’s lack of enforcement.”

    I want to get this straight, 4 reports out of 8k examiners means that there is evidence of “increasing numbers” of OIG complaints?

    lololololololololololololololol. I was wondering why it was they were all of a sudden btching. 4 people out of 8k are tots upset that nobody gets punished for accomplishing what the agency wants them to. That’s like the tip end of the dog’s tail wagging the house. Hilarious.

    “In recent years, more and more of the existing controls have been used as bargaining chips with the union to reach agreements on Agency initiatives. ”

    David K had to reach those goals everyone wanted so bad, right? You thought he did it by “magic”? lolololololololololololololol. No, he did it by running the place like a business, rather than a bureaucracy! Well, more like. Not completely like. That was literally his stated goal! He did it, and now you’re btching!

    So many lols so little time!

    “With the USPTO being
    promulgated as both a professional environment and model Federal telework Agency, ”

    The reason it is a “model professional environment and model federal telework agency” is precisely because of the problems they just found! It’s being run like a modern business instead of a bureaucracy!

    SOOOOOOO many lols. David K must be having a hearty lol.

    The funniest part of all this is perhaps that they could just make the whole “David K de facto regime” that they describe as being in place tots legit and the agency would function, if anything, better. And, then you could probably put in the big bro in and nobody would care. That way at least you’d know when they were working.

    Then the person that wrote the report with so much sound and fury would be “o, well I guess there’s that then, guess my report was pretty much for nothing”.

    Hey they even made findings at the end! I’m pretty much in agreement, with some quibbles, so that’s all I’ll say about them.

    “Because such a high percentage of interviewees said that the Quality element does not begin a patent examiner at the Fully Successful level and then earning a rating up or down from there, and that the element is often overlooked and not properly addressed because of the exorbitant amount of effort and time required to address quality issues, this element should be reviewed. ”

    First part isn’t technically true. You start at fully successful, it’s just that the elements for “outstanding” are so easy to meet after you start at fully successful. That is to say, the criteria are really easy to get up to outstanding. Which is probably how it should be, presuming you didn’t f up the baseline quality which is of course what should trip most people up (but doesn’t because of the work required to enforce this). But, that’s part of the bargain made by POPA. Management has to actually manage or else you get outstanding. O noes! O noes! The sky is fallings!

    “Having a robust Quality element is especially important as the SPEs, Directors, and ADCs agreed that holding examiners accountable for Quality is one of the tools that they have to combat time and attendance misconduct. ”

    “Robust” = “subjective”? I prefer the objective criteria that take actual effort on the part of the reviewers. And I’m glad they got them at the negotiating table. One of the few things they’ve done right!

    “Employees should be required to remain active and ensure that their status is up-to-date. ”

    Disagree strongly with that. Mandatory IM presence? T ar ded. We have better things to do than play with the IM (all so that management, once again, doesn’t have to manage). Also, big bro. Can’t have it unless you make all the rest legit. The corps likely just won’t take it. I might not take it.

    He then states that we should be req’d to be “fully successful” each bi-week to be eligible for OT. Um, newsflash, we’re not even rated per bi-week. Guess he just wants to dump that on SPE’s plates as well eh? Newsflash re re, they can’t even be bothered to manage people at a base level, going all “advanced management” all of a sudden like on them isn’t going to happen.

    “the deciding officials in proposed conduct actions, and should not be involved in the case prior to receiving the proposed action and supporting documents. It is important that the deciding officials be unbiased and rely only on what is provided in the proposal package. When the ADC/deciding official is involved in the case throughout the entire process and makes the decision on whether or not evidence can be used, the process becomes tainted. It is recommended that the ADCs delegate the authority to approve records and investigations to Employee Relations Division, who conducts the investigations and can determine what records are necessary for each case. ”

    Disagree with that. The people in HR got no business making management decisions like that. 0. Literally 0.

    “This investigation has found that there is no evidence that employees are afraid of management looking at their records”

    I’m not sure how you missed all that, because they definitely are. Definitely. Lots of them. I’m guessing they didn’t bother to ask more than 2 people.

    “Furthermore, employees are unaware of management’s review of records, unless the review reveals misconduct. ”

    Exactly. Thus, the fear of big brother. What is the re re writing this report not understanding? Has he never seen 1984?

    ” This investigation also revealed that the only time that employees are aware that management has reviewed their records is when they are called into an investigatory meeting to discuss the evidence and any discrepancies or when they receive a disciplinary or adverse action. ”

    Or when they hear about their fellows called in by the big bro after having been singled out.

    “As a federal employee, it is reasonable to assume that the Agency has the means and ability to monitor them to some degree. ”

    Yes, but it isn’t reasonable to expect anyone to like it. I’m not really sure why the author doesn’t understand this. Morale = what they like. Big bro = what they don’t like.

    ” honest employees do not have a reason to fear a records review. ”

    Oh is that right? How do they know they won’t be singled out next just for their spe’s giggles/retribution for x? How do they know how accurate that system is going to be? Since we already know it isn’t accurate (you don’t have to badge out) I’d say there’s reasonable concern about big bro. And even if there was not, he’s still big bro, and we all know you cannot trust big bro under any circumstance. Big bro = cannot trust. Ever. Can’t be trusted. Who knows? Maybe the SPE fudges the file a lil.

    “More importantly, employees use Agency-issued computers, badges, Internet
    connection, and software on a daily basis and have no right to privacy. ”

    Not having a right to privacy does not mean you voluntarily want your privacy violated just because some douse thinks that it should be. I get that this guy is clueless by now, but now he’s going off into never never land.

    “The Agency is well within its legal right to routinely monitor employee activity and use of its equipment and systems. ”

    Legal right, yes. Moral right? Ethical Right? Customary norm right? What’s best for the agency right? I just don’t know about that bro. And neither does the mgmt.

    “It is imperative that the Agency not overlook improper conduct, especially
    time and attendance fraud”

    Well that’s this guy’s subjective opinion at least. In actuality it is probably the opposite in terms of what is best for the agency.

    “If necessary, the Agency should make modifications to the way that
    data is collected and stored”

    True, but that takes money. And lots of it. The system is old. And that’s money that can’t be spent paying OT for, you guessed it, OT production. Money going actually 100% against the agency mission of doing production. That call just doesn’t make business sense. And I assure you that’s why it was not made. Production or the ability to have a stick up your ar se and sabotage the agency mission? Production every time. Hands down. Easy call.

    “Examiners are required to request leave in advance, in writing, except in unforeseen instances or emergencies”

    I’m not even sure if that is technically even true.

    “Currently, many examiners are requesting leave at the end of the bi-week, without having informed their supervisor previously. This is unacceptable and a violation of the leave requesting procedures that are in place. ”

    OH NOES!!!!! It’s unacceptables guys! lol. Pound on the table!

    _________________________________

    David K should have just made it legit at the PTO. It’s no secrit where this all came from.

    link to nytimes.com

  18. get rid of POPA and things will get better. Also, the report completely ignores the production system. Overall, there will always be bad apples (who should be fired), but that doesn’t mean the system is failing. Do not make a rule out of exceptions.

    1. “Do not make a rule out of exceptions.”

      That is correct Mr. Examiner.

      “Also, the report completely ignores the production system.”

      mhmmmm.

  19. I just can’t understand this Washington Post article, other than it seems so bare and unsupported. It comes just after they published another article noting the stress and serious time crunched production system of patent examiners, which results in poor work product. The truth of the matter is that patent examiners have very high production quotas to meet which become even more extreme as one obtains higher grade. So there is simple no way to put in hours that one does not work. You need every hour and more to meet your production goals. So unless someone has figured out a way to subvert the production system, this is just false information which does the public no good at all.

    1. “So unless someone has figured out a way to subvert the production system, this is just false information which does the public no good at all.”

      They have. Some particularly genius people figured this out. You just do shty work. Turn it in, collect huge pay check and be the best examiner ever. Get some promos so that then you’re the guy in charge.

  20. So, shadow Director Lee is spending her time telling everyone that there are other incentives other than patents rather than addressing the problems in her agency.

    Please remove shadow Director Lee Mr. President.

  21. Last week Hal Wegner was marveling at the fact that, despite a huge increase in the number of examiners over the last several years, patent pendency from initial US filing date to grant has actually increased over that same time period. I guess we now know why: although the number of people getting paid as examiners has gone up, the number of people actually examining hasn’t.

    1. Wrong. The production system is what it is. Good examiners are just entering hours commiserate with what they’ve produced, and the IG’s office is ignoring the system that the PTO uses in favor of focusing on hours entered into the system. Give me good quality examination over wasted time fretting over examination any day.

    2. Yeah idk about that bob. Even worst of the worst that I know still work a decent amount by private sector engineer standards. I’m just saying.

  22. My clients don’t do software or algorithms, just bricks-and-mortar stuff, so I look at this story from the perspective of someone who represents inventors with good inventions who are stuck with examiners who apparently don’t know how to read, and who make up boulshirt rejections so they can get their counts. This story explains a lot: some of them may not be illiterate, they just don’t *bother* to read. It would take away from their time at the pool. Or playing Candy Crush. Or picking their noses.

    Tourbillon right: no surprise about what happens when you mix public sector employees with a union. And PTO without enough space to house all its employees. I bet more space (and housing) is available for cheap in Detroit right now…

    6, you continue to embarrass your father and me.

  23. The original report highlights the most “sensational” anonymous comments (as Zinser describes them), which make for interesting reading, but not lawyerly reading.

    Where is the evidence supporting the original whistle-blower complaints? The conclusion section states the time fraud allegation are unsubstantiated. I see several anecdotal comments about the lack of monitoring “tools”. Is the report really about the need to increase monitoring? If so, both the report and the Washington Post article seem a bit shrill.

    1. …so much for “lawerly reading” – methinks you mistake what is meant by “unsubstantiated” – (hint: it does not mean ok to dismiss)

  24. 6 (and apparently other examiners)…

    Lol – wow – you should check out that psych book under denial and rampant justification of bad acts.

    1. I would just like to say that all the “bad acts” are not justified. The management calls are just that though, management calls.

  25. “No. I don’t waste my time. They can go to POPA and win. I am not aware of 1
    person who successfully terminated an examiner for time fraud. The belief is that it cannot be done. No one tries. No one wastes their time””

    Probably true random SPE #1

    “I don’t know. There has been a liberalization of hours if the work is
    accomplished”

    Little shifty there SPE #2. I like the terminology though! “liberalization” because a liberal is in the white house! LOL.

    “When it gets egregious enough. If it is at a low level, then no”

    Exactly. Because it is hard to prove, SPE #3.

    “No, don’t really have the tools because the examiners are so flexible. Can’t use
    the technology available either”

    Exactly SPE #4.

    “It seems like there is [sic] no tools”

    I’m unaware of any either SPE #5.

    “None, our hands are tied”

    Frank response SPE #6.

    “We have been told that it hard to obtain records, virtually impossible”

    That actually is true I’ve heard as well. Old system and such. No money for upgrades/maintenance. SPE #7

    ““We talked about pulling his records but I was told that could be construed as
    singling an employee out – so I asked for the whole art unit, but they said no, you can’t do the whole art unit”

    Indeed it could SPE #8.

    ““I think it is something that they are not aware of. IFP probably has people
    working past 10. They are not pulling records. I had a high producer who had a
    mouse mover program on their computer. SPE saw it and took a picture. Showed it to the Director, who talked to the ADC, and then nothing happened”

    That just takes the cake! I heard someone joking about trying to do that but that was a joke lol!

    “Yes. They don’t care anymore. The only focus is that the Ag e ncy is the #1
    Ag e ncy with happy employees”

    Can’t get no. 1 happiest ag e ncy = bad lol. Of course, the only reason we got it once was because we didn’t get shut down and furloughed.

    “Office is getting away from swipe records for fear of creating [big brother]
    effect”

    “asking and receiving records may affect the morale of all employees and feel we are big brother”

    “Ag e ncy afraid of following up with bottom 5% behavior problems. Will cast
    cloud on 95% and might have morale impact”

    Actually a good call by the a g ency there. This actually will damage morale. Again, the management here is not completely incompetent. They definitely know how to run the agency to accomplish the goals they have.

    “However, this results in a frustrated management team that cannot effectively deal with serious misconduct and feels they are in effect being told to look the other way”

    HORSEHOCKEY! Any manager wanting to deal with the issue can, themselves, manage the employee! At any given time, any one of the spes could all of a sudden step up and manage! And immediately the “problem” behavior will go away. It’s only if they want to “bushwack” deal with it that they can’t “deal with it”. It can be “dealt with” just fine through traditional management at literally any time. Say “hey what time you think you’ll be in tomorrow bob?” Bob: “around 9″ then stop by to see bob. Wow, super hard way of dealing with “the problem” (aka lack of management).

    “This tends to actually have a negative effect on the vast majority of employees who work hard and are dilig e nt about their time and see misconduct being tolerated. ”

    True, though nowhere near the “negative effect” that the lack of management has. Let’s be frank.

    “Our quality standards are low. We aren’t looking for good work. We are looking for work that meets minimal requirements”

    And that, ladies and g e ntleman, is why the worst examiners are coincidentally internally the best examiners!

    “There are a high number of examiners with auto-count that have a large percentage of their work returned for corrections.”

    Though with “corrections” of course meaning “you missed an x box please to be checking this x box”. Yeah, a super lot of “corrections” going on above the gs 12 level. Lots of check mo fing boxes that is.

    But either way, note the dirtiest little secrit of all, and the reason nobody really is on top of this is that the production system scam itself is at the heart of all this. They use that to dredge the work out of everyone regardless of the “hours” put down so that no management takes place, and so that no actual management needs to take place anyway. And that is what is at the very heart of “time fraud” anyway and everyone knows it. If there was any smidg en of management then the “time fraud” would melt away into the shadows never to be seen again. But that isn’t how management rolls (to be fair they do have other things to occupy their time so don’t be too quick to jump on them). And they won’t roll any different even after they crackdown.

    Also, the new pap was duly negotiated so I’m not sure why the bellyaching. The agency got their goals, the examiners got a bit of their goals.

    ““The curve has shifted to Outstanding”

    ^ RE quality. And that is definitely true. And it is definitely warranted frankly, based on the CRITERIA that management wants to hold us to. Change the CRITERIA and then it wouldn’t be so hard to make a quality case against someone. POPA specifically bargained for the quality system scale up and be graded OBJECTIVELY because, based on the CRITERIA being used those examiners were outstanding. It is the CRITERIA that needs to be changed so that accurate quality ratings can be made, not making the fr aking grading scale be all subjective as it used to be. And yes, it takes work to actually oversee quality. Real, time consuming WORK. This is a real sore spot for me. Seeing horsesht actions just fly out the door by others who are “good” or whatever quality, and bothering myself to do a quality job only to be subjectively deemed “good” based on NO OBJECTIVE CRITERIA and being explicitly told I was being graded SUBJECTIVELY was horsehockey back in the day!

  26. “Unnamed Patent Examiners are misrepresenting their time and attendance
    records, to include claiming overtime that is not being worked.”

    Entirely TRUE, at least some are. In fact, probably all the ones with 120%+ production are. You know, the really really good superstar examiners who management wants to join their ranks. Also, that’s where the money is. If you’re not doing this, then you’re doing like me, and barely making an Alexandria living. (Fortunately I’m used to living like a poor person anyway so it doesn’t really matter). Besides, probably pretty tough to “prove”.

    “Unnamed Patent Examiners are misrepresenting their time and attendance records by claiming time based on work completed instead of time worked. ”

    Absolutely preposterously TRUE. Anyone telling you differently is preposterously uninformed. Though probably difficult to prove.

    “There is a lack of accountability for Patent Examiners to record their time
    correctly as long as the examiner meets his or her production goals”

    Absolutely TRUE. And probably the way it should be, which is probably why mngmt doesn’t btch too terribly much. Also, probably pretty tough to prove.

    “The Ag e ncy is not policing or monitoring abuse of timesheets.”

    Not technically true, though they do not monitor them perhaps as much as they could. If this were technically true then nobody would ever get in trouble over their timesheets (but this does happen from time to time).

    “Conduct issues and time fraud are routinely overlooked as long as an examiner’s production levels are acceptable.”

    Conduct issues = completely true. You’ve got to really f up if your production is good. And conduct issues are likely hard to prove as well, who has time for all that nonsense if it isn’t srs? That’s a management call. As to time fraud, meh, don’t know. Probably really hard to prove.

    “f. There is a lack of accountability for Patent Examiners participating in the
    Hoteling Program”

    Absolutely TRUE.

    “Unnamed Patent Examiners are receiving overtime pay for time they are not
    working.”

    Absolutely TRUE. Though they are doing the work. Which is really mostly all of what this ag e ncy cares about because that is all the public cares about. Which ironically is the basis of one of the linked articles.

    “Management is dissuading supervisors from questioning employees about time and attendance discrepancies.”

    Meh, can’t say, but wouldn’t be surprised, nor would I particularly care personally. It literally is their call to make.

    “There is a lack of accountability for Patent Examiners to record their time correctly.”

    Maybe a little TRUE, probably a lot not TRUE. There’s actually a lot of accountability that goes into recording time correctly already. Though again, perhaps it isn’t as much as a stick up your behind person could manage to squeeze out if they really tried week after week.

    “Unnamed Patent Examiners are only working at the end of the quarter, known as “end-loading” their work and can go from unacceptable performance to award levels in one bi-week by doing 500% to more than 1000% of their production goal.”

    Obviously TRUE. Though many examiners also use some end loading to cope with plainly unreasonable work loads usually implemented because they’re required to find art to reject app after app when they’re new. Likewise there are even some (very few) examiners that complete work and set it aside to turn in later. So all the work turned in during the last bi-week may have been done over the course of the quarter and saved. I heard about this one old timer that has nearly half a year’s worth of cases just sitting around already done and anytime he wants production he just goes over and picks one up n turns it in. He just saved little bits and pieces up for years and years and keeps adding more to the stack.

    “. Supervisors are not equipped to monitor the quality of the work submitted effectively due to “end-loading”.”

    Overblown. Supervisors can go through the cases as slowly as they like and anything that doesn’t get reviewed in time is simply late. Anybody telling you differently is bonkers. Spes have the authority there.

    “Patent Examiners are submitting incomplete work for credit before the end of
    a bi-week and then going in after the bi-week to submit valid work. ”

    This I’ve heard of happening from mgmt but never actually witnessed or heard of around the way. I guess it goes on somewhere, but it is a conduct issue that they actually will get on you for and write you up. So nobody is doing that a lot I would doubt. And if they are, that’s their spe’s bad.

    “Unnamed Patent Examiners are receiving bonuses for Docket Management
    while they have overdue cases in their dockets”

    I think that is technically legit under the bonus agreement legitimately agreed upon by mgmt and popa. Depends on what they mean by “overdue”. Can’t have more than 1 that goes over like 84 days or something like that. Though “overdue” starts at like 60 days probably. So yes, probably happening but irrelevant and legit.

    “Standards have gotten easier with the implementation of the new PAP in FY
    2010 as GS-12s and above can now get credit for the work before it is
    reviewed”

    Soooooo … wut?

    “There is no reasonable way for a supervisor to monitor the quality of the
    work.”

    It still has to be signed before it goes out. Just because credit is given doesn’t mean that it is “off the examiner’s plate” so to speak. I’m not even sure what they’re whining about here.

    “Performance standards became easier with the new count system and
    examiner PAP.”

    I don’t know if I’d say that. The extra hour helps. But at the same time the lessened value for RCE’s hurts. The only thing that really “got easier” is the managing of workflow and getting the workflow bonus (g e nerally because the workflow is legit managed better).

    ____________________________

    At the end of the day though, most examiners I know not on telework actually work more than most other engineering people I know (often for much less pay). When people come here from the private sector engineering they’re all like “je sus, we do so much work here”. Thus I’m going to say the people teleworking likely get as much work done with so many fewer distractions that they get done much quicker. And I’m also going to say that management is likely making the correct call by retaining its performing workforce. If they could only find it in themselves to move from an hours based approach to a production based approach things would at least be legit even if the production system scam continues.

    Bottom line, the work standards are probably the only reason management has a workforce to begin with so I wouldn’t be too quick to judge them. If you think anyone wants this job to “serve the public” while making much less money or some such nonsense then you and I need to have a good ol’ lol.

    Here’s how hiring at the PTO goes:

    Con person into thinking the job here is Gr8!
    Tell person that you’ll train them for their job.
    Put them through the academy.
    Toss em to the wolves of the arbitrary production system and see how they do at rejecting everything. But they can’t work Voluntary OT!
    Hold retention over their head at end of first year to make them get to 100%. Fire them if they can’t make it.
    Get them to GS 12+ and enjoy all the production coming out of them.

    1. “Performance standards became easier with the new count system and
      examiner PAP.”

      That’s a flat out lie for a large number of the examiners. For anyone in a more difficult art, e.g. the ones that have a GS-12 expectancy of 31.6, The new count system actually resulted in more work and higher performance standards for the examiners because the 2.5 hours extra didn’t make up for the .25 and .50 taken away from the RCEs.

        1. I don’t recall saying that RCE churning didn’t happen. It did. Not to the extend to you would like to think, and there were many other factors affecting RCEs (Dudas years of reject everything and second guess every allowance with 2nd pair of eyes program), but I won’t deny that RCE churning didn’t happen. However, it was hardly a gravy train. The production system target hours per balanced disposal were based on the fact that examiners could count on full counts from RCE.

          1. Not to the extend to you would like to think

            What extent do you think that I like to think?

            Sorry, “truthy” examiner, but you too need to pull your head out of the sand and face reality.

      1. Exactly The Truth. That’s why it’s a wash for me. Although I’m probably on the losing end a little bit.

        For people with BD hours of say 1-16 hrs it probably worked out dandy. Then it starts becoming a wash, then it starts becoming harder.

  27. If you fire some of them then they’ll start telling on all the others then boom, you no longer have a teleworking force and you’re undermanned by 4k examiners.

    Course, you could just pull them all back to the alexandria campus … o wait, no you can’t! There literally isn’t even nearly enough office space to hold them all.

    So what’s a high level manager to do? Enjoy all the extra production being done and the cost/environmental/retainment savings from not providing the employee a workspace and them working from home, or crack down on the employees causing a huge stir? Or maybe crack down just a little bit? Hire someone to create accountability big brother software for only a million dollars?

    You’re the high level manager, David K in fact, pick one. Or choose your own adventure!

    I guess now they’ll try to crack down a bit after this mini-scandal.

    “Although the facts here are quite disturbing. ”

    Boy I know I was “disturbed” by this non-news.

    “And when supervisors had evidence of fraud and asked to have the employee’s computer records pulled, they were rebuffed by top ag e ncy officials, ensuring that few cheaters were disciplined, investigators found.”

    That explains quite a bit though for reals. Though technically speaking the “computer records” aren’t going to tell you a whole lot. Quite a few people spend hours on legitimate hours staring at paper documents. Even I do and I’m about as close to an “all electronic” person that you can be. So that might actually account for quite a bit of the “scandal” that isn’t even scandalous. Though on telework you may be req’d to make sure you’re checked in or something. Idk I haven’t looked over the telework stuff in awhile.

    ” The report sent to Commerce Department Inspector G e n eral Todd Zinser concluded that it was impossible to know if the whistleblowers’ allegations of systemic abuses were true.”

    That is likely true.

    Also, the whole part about being paid extra for work “not done” is completely overblown. The “overtime” you put in to do a new case is based substantially on the counts, not the physical hours worked. Though that whole scheme, in place since I’ve been here, always seemed rather odd to me. Though on the other hand the whole of the “production” system is naught but a scam anyway, though not by the workers, by the mgmt. And that’s the real scandal underlying this mini-scandal. It’s in place solely so that they do not have to manage (as I have said for literally years). A 1970′s “management” solution. And it is the reason why “overtime” is put down in hours, yet handed in through papers sent out.

  28. If you fire some of them then they’ll start telling on all the others then boom, you no longer have a teleworking force and you’re undermanned by 4k examiners.

    Course, you could just pull them all back to the alexandria campus … o wait, no you can’t! There literally isn’t even nearly enough office space to hold them all.

    So what’s a high level manager to do? Enjoy all the extra production being done and the cost/environmental/retainment savings from not providing the employee a workspace and them working from home, or crack down on the employees causing a huge stir? Or maybe crack down just a little bit? Hire someone to create accountability big brother software for only a million dollars?

    You’re the high level manager, David K in fact, pick one. Or choose your own adventure!

    I guess now they’ll try to crack down a bit after this mini-scandal.

    “Although the facts here are quite disturbing. ”

    Boy I know I was “disturbed” by this non-news.

    “And when supervisors had evidence of fraud and asked to have the employee’s computer records pulled, they were rebuffed by top ag e ncy officials, ensuring that few cheaters were disciplined, investigators found.”

    That explains quite a bit though for reals. Though technically speaking the “computer records” aren’t going to tell you a whole lot. Quite a few people spend hours on legitimate hours staring at paper documents. Even I do and I’m about as close to an “all electronic” person that you can be. So that might actually account for quite a bit of the “scandal” that isn’t even scandalous. Though on telework you may be req’d to make sure you’re checked in or something. Idk I haven’t looked over the telework stuff in awhile.

    ” The report sent to Commerce Department Inspector G e n eral Todd Zinser concluded that it was impossible to know if the whistleblowers’ allegations of systemic abuses were true.”

    That is likely true.

    Also, the whole part about being paid extra for work “not done” is completely overblown. The “overtime” you put in to do a new case is based substantially on the counts, not the physical hours worked. Though that whole scheme, in place since I’ve been here, always seemed rather odd to me. Though on the other hand the whole of the “production” system is naught but a scam anyway, though not by the workers, by the mgmt. And that’s the real scandal underlying this mini-scandal. It’s in place solely so that they do not have to manage (as I have said for literally years). A 1970′s “management” solution. And it is the reason why “overtime” is put down in hours, yet handed in through papers sent out.

  29. The lack of accountability for hours worked is the very reason that the USPTO is “the #1 place to work in the federal government”. The salary is terrible, the work is dull yet stressful, and the office environment is cold and isolating. But the work-life balance (i.e., you work as many or as few hours as necessary to meet the production and quality metrics) is compelling.

    Why should anyone really care how many hours an examiner is actively using their computer, besides for pedantic reasons? A few years ago, most everything was done on paper; an examiner could be daydreaming or writing the Great American Novel and no one would ever be the wiser. Today they could be browsing Patently O or Google News just as easily. So are the hours clocked on the computer important? If efficient examiners should be paid less or forced to interact with their computers more, what about examiners who have to work “voluntary” overtime to meet their production/quality requirements? Should they be paid more for their inefficiency?

    1. “The lack of accountability for hours worked is the very reason that the USPTO is “the #1 place to work in the federal government”. ”

      Lulz.

      See?

      The only reason they have a workforce to begin with.

      lolololololololololol.

      “But the work-life balance (i.e., you work as many or as few hours as necessary to meet the production and quality metrics) is compelling”

      Is that what “work-life balance” means? lol, I never even knew that! It’s like a secrit code!

    2. “The salary is terrible…” LOL

      Terrible like an outside attorney, except half as many hours to work. I’d take that kind of terrible.

  30. Not to state the obvious, but the article is about a unionized public sector workforce. If the reported dysfunction comes as a surprise, you should not be permitted to possess any instrument with a sharp point on it.

    1. Former examiner and now private attorney here. The “union” is really just an employees group – they have no power to actually strike. The PTO brass tries to get along with the “union,” but are under not obligation to do so.

      Examiners are overwhelmingly making their work quotas. It’s just that they aren’t logged into their work computers for the same time periods that they later say they are working on time sheets. This could mean they are being lazy about their timesheets, or that they are printing out work to do on paper (I used to do this), or transferring work from their work to their home computer, which is common. Either way, the “time fraud” term is highly misleading.

      1. Yawn . . . more pro-union propaganda.

        Read the WaPo article, Aaron, imbibe the fraud — not just the EXMNR fraud, but the fraud by which the original report was gutted before going to IG Zinser.

        Aaron: The union is really just an “employee’s group” — beg pardon??

        WaPo:

        Both reports conclude that policies negotiated with the patent examiners’ union have left managers with few tools to monitor their staffs. Both acknowledge that supervisors have limited access to records that could prove suspected time fraud, resulting in negligible disciplinary action.

        Ya’ want real patent reform? Step #1: Nuke the examiner’s union — that is the elephant in this room, and it needs a good, swift, kick in the noots.

        Aaron: “Examiners are overwhelmingly making their work quotas.” How could you possibly know that? Not from what I’m seeing

        . . . says one who has just waited 14 months for a response to grounds of traverse to an absolutely brain-ded FOAM, only to get: 1) an apology from the supervisor, 2) a statement that the EXMNR is no longer at the PTO b/c of “exceptional circumstances” and 3) a new NF OA filed by a new EXAMNR that is almost verbatim the same as the first brain-ded OA with a completely new set of verbatim rejections and no mention of whether the original rejections were withdrawn and no mention of our copious grounds of traverse.

        Yeah, the examiners are making their quotas. Explain that to a micro-guy who realizes that because of EXMNR incompetence and multiple idjit OA’s sucking him dry he can’t afford to complete the patenting process and will lose thousands he’s invested in it.

        Somebody needs to write the Graphs of Wrath of Patent Practice.

      2. Great, then it won’t be a problem to PRIVATIZE the easy work (cases involving big companies with armies of attys). And then, all the hard-working USPTOers can move to that unit.

        This is just starting, no more cut-and-paste B.S.

  31. The US Patent Office needs massive reforms. Needs much better management. More training. More supervision and accountability. Etc.

    Many complain about “junk patents” but few point the finger at the PTO.

    There are some great professional examiners. But there are others.

    Enough said.

    1. Many complain about “junk patents” but few point the finger at the PTO.

      The end result of junk patents is the junk applicants, in the same way crime is ultimately the fault of the criminals, but yes, the PTO does not do a great job policing these issues. In fairness, it seems a lot of attorneys don’t understand either.

      1. Blame the applicant…

        The ethics of random examiner is so righteous – (um, you might want to take a step back and notice that it is not the applicants nor their attorneys being impugned with story after story – about the examiner corp.)

        1. “(um, you might want to take a step back and notice that it is not the applicants nor their attorneys being impugned with story after story – about the examiner corp.)”

          Yeah that story already broke and they’re dealing with it in the congress and were dealing with it here at the office years ago. Now it just fades into obscurity…

        2. notice that it is not the applicants nor their attorneys being impugned with story after story – about the examiner corp

          The story is that examiners are acting like attorneys, in that they “charge” a flat number of hours for their acts rather than just counting the hours. The complaint is not that work isn’t being done, the complaint is that an Examiner doesn’t sit around and twiddle his thumbs in his office chair while/after doing it. Whether that constitutes “impugning” is for you to decide.

          In any case, it’s not for me to speak about what management does, but personally I don’t see how the system could reasonably work differently than it does now.

          If you have two examiners, and you’re forced to subject both of them to the same rules, and you’re not allowed to provide a suitable bonus for the value of extra work to be done, how do you get the upper one to work to his limit?

          To put a fine point on it: A and D were both hired at the same time, D is only capable of doing 100% work (say 4 counts in 40hrs). A is capable of doing 150% work (6 counts). How do you convince A do to turn in his 6 counts, rather than just slacking and turning in 4? What about the TPS reports, Michael? I suppose the answer is, you don’t, you just let A do 100% and hire half an examiner. Now you’re paying 2.5 people (with the attendant office, training and other costs) for the work 2 people could do, and THAT kinda sounds like waste. This, of course, wouldn’t even be a story.

          1. are acting like attorneys

            There was a single comment to that effect, and the stories (plural) about examiner malfeasance run the gambit from this to RCE chicanery.

            You kind of disappeared from that conversation.

            As to your “if” scenario – lovely strawman, as no one has said anything about not having a well-regulated and run bonus system.

            Pay attention.

            1. as no one has said anything about not having a well-regulated and run bonus system.

              Quite the problem for the discussion then as that is, in fact, what they have. If you didn’t receive a 9% production bonus for doing 50% bonus work, you wouldn’t have people who wanted to claim 50% overtime (thus giving a 50% pay bonus) instead. There is no level of production bonus that pays the same as counting the same amount of time as overtime, which is all this “bombshell” is a symptom of.

              You know what they would do with someone who did a year’s worth of work in 10 months (which is what the 304 “unaccounted for” hours person equals, if it truly is unaccounted for, person did)? They’d promote them and give them a big bonus. Yet that same person does the same thing in government work and it’s some sort of scandal.

              1. That you fail to see the scandal here – is itself a serious sign that the scandal runs deep.

                You are not even at the first stage of the process of recovery.

              2. “Your post ignores the fact that improperly gaming the system”

                And whom decides what is improper and proper? Is that you anon? Shall we all genuflect before you?

                Or is that mgmt?

              3. It surely is not management – if it were they would not be concerned with the IG Office, now would they?

                (and again with your odd obsession with what anon says….)

              4. “It surely is not management – if it were they would not be concerned with the IG Office, now would they?”

                Yes, they would, and yes, it surely is mgmt. The reason they would is because officially speaking the agreement is what is publicly available. But they have the power to change that agreement.

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