Patent Examiner (Computer Engineering)

Alexandria, Virginia
Jun 09, 2023
Jun 16, 2023
Engineer, IT, QA Engineer
Full Time

Patent examiners may choose to perform their duties throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.

As a U.S. patent examiner, you will use your specialized background to review applications to determine whether patents can be granted for inventions. Patents give inventors the right to exclude others from making or selling their inventions for a limited time. That means that patent examiners are critical to protecting American innovation!


As a patent examiner, you will spend your time:

  • Reviewing patent applications to determine if they comply with Federal law and regulation and scientific principle. A PE scrutinizes patent applications, determines the scope of protection claimed by the inventor, researches relevant technologies, and communicates findings and decisions to patent practitioners and/or inventors.
  • Conducting extensive reviews of a large body of technical information, including detailed drawings as represented in electrical schematic, 3-dimensional mechanical portrayed drawings or chemical manufacturing process diagrams
  • Writing legal office actions on patentability and responding to patent applications.

New patent examiners receive top-notch training during the first months on the job that will give you the tools you need to be successful in your role.

The position requires the analytical ability to efficiently digest large volumes of scientific information and to use this in making timely decisions regarding the patentability of an application. The PE reviews patent applications and writes office actions in a production-oriented environment.

Almost all of the PE's work is performed using a computer and is visually very demanding.

As a GS-11 level, you will independently perform patent examining functions and formulate or recommend appropriate action with respect to:
  • Checking applications for technical accuracy and compliance with formal requirements
  • Treating disclosure statements and claims of priority
  • Analyzing disclosure and claims for compliance with 35 USC 112
  • Planning a field of search
  • Conducting search
  • Formulating rejections under 35 USC 102 and 103 with supporting rationale, or determining how claim(s) distinguish over the prior art
  • Determining whether amendment introduces new matter
  • Determining whether restriction is proper
  • Determining whether claimed invention is operable/useful as disclosed

After preliminary instruction, you will perform patent examining functions and formulate or recommend appropriate action with respect to:
* Evaluating / applying case law as necessary
* Evaluating sufficiency of affidavits / declarations
* Determining whether appropriate line of patentable distinction is maintained between application and/or patents
* Evaluating sufficiency of reissue oath / declaration

Please search USAJOBS for "Patent Examiner" or consult our Careers Website for further information.

Note: If you are a student who will be graduating soon, you can still apply! Applications will be accepted from students who expect to complete their qualifying education within 9 months from the date of application. The USPTO requires verification of successful completion before your start date.


Conditions of Employment

  • Applicants must be United States Citizens and Nationals.
  • Your resume and question responses must demonstrate the job-related competencies.
  • You must meet the definition of specialized experience.
  • Required to pass a background investigation and fingerprint check.
  • Must be registered for Selective Service, if applicable (
  • If selected, you may be required to complete a one year probationary period.
  • You must meet all qualification requirements upon the closing date of this announcement.
  • You must be suitable for Federal Employment.


You must meet the United States Office of Personnel Management's (OPM) qualification requirements (including specialized experience and/or educational requirements) for the advertised position. OPM's prescribed Group Coverage Qualification Standard for Patent Examiner Series, GS-1224,can be found at OPM Patent Examiner Series 1224

To be considered for this position, you must have either:

(A) successfully completed a full 4-year course of study in an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor's or higher degree in Engineering;


(B) a combination of qualifying education and experience.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.

The curriculum must:

1. Be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as a professional engineering curriculum;


2. Include differential and integral calculus and courses (more advanced than first-year physics and chemistry) in five of the following seven areas:

a) statics, dynamics

b) strength of materials (stress-strain relationships) c) fluid mechanics, hydraulics d) thermodynamics

e) electrical fields and circuits

f) nature and properties of materials (relating to particle and aggregate structure to properties)

g) any other comparable area of fundamental engineering science or physics, such as optics, heat transfer, soil mechanics or electronics


B) A combination of Education and Experience. This combination of college-level education, training and/or technical experience must have furnished both:

- A thorough knowledge of the physical and mathematical sciences underlying professional engineering;


- A good understanding, both theoretical and practical, of the engineering sciences and techniques and their application to professional engineering.

This can be demonstrated by one of the following:

1. Professional registration-- Current registration as a professional engineer by any State, the District of Columbia, Guam or Puerto Rico.

2. Written test-- Evidence of passing the Engineer-in-Training (EIT) examination or the written test required for professional registration, administered by the Boards of Engineering Examiners in various States, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

3. Specified academic courses-- Successful completion of at least 60 semester hours in the physical, mathematical and engineering sciences and including the courses specified in the basic requirements. The courses must be fully acceptable toward meeting the requirements of a professional engineering curriculum as described in paragraph A.

4. Related curriculum-- Successful completion of a curriculum leading to a bachelor's degree in engineering technology or in an appropriate professional field, e.g., physics, chemistry, architecture, computer science, mathematics, hydrology, or geology, may be accepted in lieu of an Engineering degree, provided the applicant has had at least 1 year of professional engineering experience with professional engineering supervision and guidance.

For documentation requirements, see REQUIRED DOCUMENTS.

In addition to the basic qualifications above, at the GS-11 you must:

A) Have at least one year of specialized experience, equivalent to the GS-9 level in the Federal service (1) Interpreting and applying advanced computer engineering and/or scientific principles, theories, concepts and methodologies used in the evaluation of technology; or (2) Planning and conducting technical research to draft technical papers; or (3) Applying appropriate references and case law to claimed inventions.


B) Have at least three years of progressively higher level in graduate level education leading to a Ph.D degree or Ph.D or equivalent doctoral degree from an accredited college and/or university in the fields of study as described in the Basic Qualification Requirements. If the number of credit hours representing one year of full-time study cannot be obtained from the school, 18 semester hours will be considered an academic year of graduate study.


C) Have less than the full amount of graduate education described in "B" above and less than the amount of experience described in "A" above, but have a combination of the type of graduate education described in "B" above and experience described in "A" above.


If you are substituting education for experience, you must submit an unofficial transcript or a list of courses that includes: your name, name of accredited institution, grades earned, completion dates, and quarter and semester hours earned.

Education completed in foreign colleges or universities may be used to meet the requirements. Please refer to for more information. You are not required to submit official documents at this time; copies are sufficient.

Special Instructions for Foreign Education: Qualifying education from colleges and universities in foreign countries must be evaluated in terms of equivalency to that acquired in U.S. colleges and universities. Applicants educated in whole or in part in foreign countries must submit sufficient evidence, including transcripts, to an accredited private organization for an equivalency evaluation of course work and degree. A listing of these accredited organizations can be found on the Department of Education's website - US Department of Education . Another listing of services that can perform this evaluation is available at the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) website. You must provide a copy of the letter containing the results of the equivalency evaluation with a course by course listing along with your application. Failure to provide such documentation when requested will result in lost consideration.

NOTE: Only education and experience acquired before the filing deadline will be considered. Report only attendance and/or degrees from schools accredited by accrediting institutions recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Additional information

If you are a male applicant born after December 31, 1959, you must certify that you have registered with the Selective Service System. If you are exempt from registration under Selective Service Law, you must provide appropriate proof of exemption. Please visit the Selective Service System website for more information.

This is a Bargaining Unit position and represented by Patent Office Professional Association (POPA)

This is a Public Trust position and has a risk level designation of "moderate".

Background Investigation - If selected for this position, you may be required to complete a Declaration for Federal Employment (OF-306), which includes a fingerprint and credit check, to determine your suitability for Federal employment and to authorize a background investigation.

The USPTO participates in E-Verify. For more information on E-Verify, please visit the Department of Homeland Security Website .

All Federal employees are required to have Federal salary payments made by direct deposit to a financial institution of their choice.

CTAP and ICTAP candidates will be eligible for selection priority if it is determined that they have exceeded the minimum qualifications for the position by attaining at least a "well qualified" rating of 85 out of 100. Information about CTAP and ICTAP eligibility is on the Office of Personnel Management's Career Transition Resources website at: OPM CTAP/ICTAP .

CTAP/ICTAP documentation requirements are listed in the 'Required Documents' section of this announcement.

More than one selection may be made from this announcement if additional identical vacancies in the same title, series, grade, and unit occur within 90 days from the date the certificate was issued.

All application materials become the property of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

USPTO Job Applicants requiring reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process should request accommodation(s) from the USPTO at .

The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, retaliation, parental status, military service, or other non-merit factors. If you believe that you have been discriminated against and would like to file an EEO complaint, you must do so within 45 days of the date of the alleged discriminatory act. Claims of employment discrimination must be submitted to the attention of the USPTO's Office of Equal Employment Opportunity & Diversity via email ( ) or phone (571-272-8292).