STEPP training

I went through the STEPP training and thought it was really excellent:

If you are a patent attorney or agent, it helps to think like an examiner. Sunday, November 10, 2019 is the last day to sign up for the January Stakeholder Training on Examination Practice and Procedure (STEPP) agent/attorney course. This three-day course takes place on January 28-30, 2020 at the Miami Beach Regional Library in Miami, Florida.

The training is limited to those who have passed the patent bar, since it will make use of statutes, rules, and guidelines relevant to practicing before the USPTO. Priority will be given to those who have recently passed the patent bar. USPTO trainers lead the course, which is based on material developed for training USPTO employees.

We are applying for CLE credit in Florida for this course.

Use the STEPP sign-up form to register.

You can learn more about the program and upcoming sessions on the STEPP page of the USPTO website.

29 thoughts on “STEPP training

  1. 5

    Dennis, thank you for the comments and free advertising for the USPTO. I was part of the team to create the program. Our goal was to help practitioners understand the training of examiners. Walking a little in their shoes could not hurt! I always recommend that attorneys attend before they learn too many bad habits. :)

    1. 5.1

      I always recommend that attorneys attend before they learn too many bad habits. :)

      See post 4.1

      :smile:

  2. 4

    As an Examiner, I would be curious what an attorney actually learned from STEPP.

    1. 4.1

      As an attorney, I would be curious what the Office actually learned in feedback from attorneys in STEPP.

  3. 3

    Depending on the examiner, I don’t know if it is a good thing to “think” like an examiner. I want to think like a person, regardless of position (e.g., examiner, attorney, agent, etc.), which understands the law and applies it properly.

    1. 3.1

      Agree, but also disagree.

      Or perhaps I should put it that examiner should “think” in a manner in accord with understanding and applying the law, and that this should is something that all should aspire to (as you point out).

      The reality though is that both sides may be off (but with all humility, this runs to more than 95% of the time that the examiner is off).

      I “get” that there is value though in understanding how an examiner has arrived at their position. In the plenty of cases where this is off (AND make no mistake, as I have commented recently – an award winning comment from AAA JJ), the MPEP is also off in either direct words or application of case law.

      Having the known understanding of how the examiner is viewing something can only help in trying to correct (and teach) the examiner.

      This is why I commented upon the feedback aspect in post 4.1.

  4. 2

    Hey gents from Cali/San Diego, I have some folks looking to snipe me to a position in San Diego as a patent advisor (not an agent/attorney etc.). Though from what I can tell I would occasionally be doing practically the job of an agent at some points, perhaps under someone there’s watch, at least until I went ahead and took the agents exam (if that is even req’d once a primary, I’ve totally forgotten).

    Presuming I’m making 125kish at the office now, with benes etc. what do you guys think would be a decent cost of living adjusted amount I would need to set forth as a min salary to even “break even” considering a cost of living bump from a 1400$ a mo. semi-luxury apt in mid-range city to having to relocate to san diego (no hotelling available at the new position)? Like 150k? 160k even? More? The internet seems to have a wildly fluctuating dollar amount set forth for what agents and attorneys are making on avg in San Diego, and doesn’t really seem to mention patent advisors on too many sites but on some sites they seem to say avg is 145.5k. If anyone is out there now, and can let me know if they think it is a great standard of living or anything remarkable (like rents for decent places on avg).

    1. 2.1

      Whew just looked at state taxes, looking like 9% as compared to my 5.5% here. Whew. That’s a big ol chunk. Like 6k extra cost of living just for the pleasure of being in Cali.

      1. 2.1.1

        More / and Cali may not be to your political/philosophical liking.

        You may also want to consider that you will be outside of the “comfy” of a government bureaucratic union environment and have to produce in a “real world” environment.

        1. 2.1.1.1

          “More ”

          You mean more money? Wasn’t sure what you meant here. Like 190?

          “You may also want to consider that you will be outside of the “comfy” of a government bureaucratic union environment and have to produce in a “real world” environment.”

          Yeah I know about that, but I’ve been there before. I know the drill more or less. Just making the old boss man happy.

          1. 2.1.1.1.1

            I don’t know 6. The reality is that you are probably a lot better off staying in the government. Prosecution is becoming more and more a commodity.

            Lots of people are cutting budgets and it is going to continue.

            1. 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Brother I hear ya on that perspective, but this company is prime positioned for this gen and next gen cell comms. They’re going to be in the game for awhile I’m pretty sure. Like probably the rest of my career long while. But I appreciate you letting me know.

              1. 2.1.1.1.1.1.1

                Qualcomm. Probably OK place to work.

    2. 2.2

      Your life, but your note does not mention other considerations such as job security, including private company survival odds, pensions, medical costs, increased job competition in desirable living areas, etc. Also, a patent agent job entitled “patent advisor” would need to be clearly limited to advising about filing or prosecuting patents, or prior art searching, and not get talked into giving quasi-legal opinions about patent validity, business acquisitions, litigation or licensing.

      1. 2.2.1

        Interesting note there mr. morgan, it seems to be a fairly standard position tho. A lot of the stuff involves helping them set up internal systems that they need to set up. But I appreciate your note, and also should say myself that I did consider a lot of those things, which is why I was thinking realistically I’d need to probably say 160 just to make it at all worth my while. If not 165-170 just to make it attractive. I’m not sure that is econ viable tho so I kind of feel bad even asking that high for someone they’re going to have to run through considerable bringing up to speed etc. But I guess they’re going to need to do that with whomever they get so idk.

      2. 2.2.2

        “business acquisitions, litigation or licensing.”

        They do mention mergers and acquisitions and some helping out on licensing. Is that illegal without sittin the state bar?

    3. 2.3

      6 — with the higher housing cost, higher state tax (and other paycheck deductions to feed the California welfare state), and almost unbearable liberalism (there’s nothing progressive about liberal); and the often terrible traffic, widespread homelessness, yearly major fires, and earthquakes; were I not already stuck here in the CA swamp, there’s no way in you-know-what that I’d move here.

      If you move here, you’re going to be sorry.

      Very sorry.

      1. 2.3.1

        I thank you for your sincere note pro se. Any amount of money/working conditions that would make you reconsider?

        1. 2.3.1.1

          You’re welcome 6. For me — knowing what I know — no amount of salary-type money would make it worthwhile (I mean, hey; lottery-type money (300k+/yr) would make it worth holding my nose to CA’s lack of quality of life (other than the nice weather) until I could afford to retire and get out of here).

          That said, given your knowledge and experience, something close to the the $200k/yr range for a salary + an additional housing allowance seems fair and reasonable.

          Though I don’t know San Diego housing prices, rents are generally up 20% over the last few years in the nice areas of CA. Purchase prices are equal or greater than they were just before the meltdown of 2008.

          I do love San Diego, though.

          Hope this helps.

          1. 2.3.1.1.1

            Many thanks, my little sis apparently made it out there and she’s all about it and would really like to head out (just thinking about the weather apparently tho mainly, as well as the beach bum lifestyle of many).

    4. 2.4

      I’m impressed how many answers your enquiry has generated, 6. Over my 40+ years in patents, I have served in private practice, corporate in house and government service and have worked with others who have moved around between these three poles. Some start as Examiners and move out. Others start in private practice and later move to the EPO. It’s a bit like the world of tax returns, or that of gamekeepers and poachers. You should find the environment which inspires you.

      Me, I find judging a case real hard work for little reward. I find a daily routine of saying No quite depressing. I prefer the world of salesmanship, ie being a patent attorney in Europe, spending half my time convincing Examiners that my client has been inventive, and the other half representing an Opponent for whom the other side’s patent is plain obvious. But it’s surely different for you, eh?

      I would say your starting money is a minor consideration. If you are inspired at what you do, diligent and talented, you can move around, and then the money will come, ever more of it.

      And now, here’s the rub: how do you know whether the world of patent work outside the PTO suits you better, until you try it?

      1. 2.4.1

        “But it’s surely different for you, eh?”

        I don’t know about that max. Tbh I probably would have been better starting out outside, but ol george bush snared me back in the day.

        “And now, here’s the rub: how do you know whether the world of patent work outside the PTO suits you better, until you try it?”

        Totally hear ya there.

        “I would say your starting money is a minor consideration. If you are inspired at what you do, diligent and talented, you can move around, and then the money will come, ever more of it.”

        I do hear you on that one as well. But on the other hand, I’m in the middle of building investments that I would like to have making 20-30k on avg a year in a couple of years. That way whenever I feel like retiring to “the holler” I can if I feel like it for a few years or whatever with literally no problemo. Just staying at the office I can hit that in not long.

    5. 2.5

      Don’t forget to compare benefits. At the PTO, your annuity is worth ~10% of your pay, you get 5% matching on your TSP, you get plentiful days off and sick days (I use another 10% for those). So, to break even, I would say you need at least a 25% pay raise, plus cost of living, unless the firm you are going to has similar benefits (some do, some don’t, many have 3-5 year vesting periods, etc.)

      But as also noted, look at the long term. If you want something different, you are very likely going to have to take a financial hit in the short (2-4 year) term, but enjoying your work more should make it bearable.

      Best of luck!

      1. 2.5.1

        Good call sir, good call. I totally forgot about all that retirement extras to be factored in. Many thanks. Will do. I had thought it’s actually more than 10%, it’s like .5% for each year up to like 30 I thought, so 15% (or more?) at 30 years. I think, but I will look into it.

        “But as also noted, look at the long term. If you want something different, you are very likely going to have to take a financial hit in the short (2-4 year) term, but enjoying your work more should make it bearable.”

        True that. Searching all the time (like literally 60% of my life is searching/reading refs) is like a big ol meh after your 10th year doing it.

  5. 1

    Another fun thought: the PTO should just leak all of Gil Hyatt’s ridiculous g-rb-a-ge portfolio.

    Who’s going to object? The Pwezident?

    LOLOLOL

    Own it, Re pu -k-k-k es. It’s all yours. Lookin at you in particular, Big Jeans.

    1. 1.1

      Your 0bsess10ns are noted.

    2. 1.2

      Not thrilled with our president, but better than the other option in my, gulp, non-racest, non-biggoted view. Stop acting like there are only 2 types of people in the world – those that are clones of you, and those that are the spawn of Hilter and the Dvil. I think you’ll find life a bit more complex and interesting if you take off your massive blinders.

      1. 1.2.1

        welcome to the blog, fellowtraveler (but be forewarned, MM – aka Malcolm – has been engaging in this type of blight for well over 14 and a half years.

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