Posted at 9:45 AM
Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting members of the Department of Commerce and their contributions to the Open for Business Agenda.
Guest blog post by Francis Gray, Primary Patent Examiner, United States Patent and Trademark Office
I am a patent examiner, so I review, evaluate and determine the outcome and patentability of applications in electrophotography, also known as printers. I decided to join the USPTO because I was intrigued by the agency’s mission and the vast opportunities it presented. I wanted to be a part of this complex world providing exclusive rights to new, novel inventions.
A typical day starts with me reviewing my docket to see which patent application is next in my queue. I prefer to do my reading early in the day, so once I know which application is next, I begin reading and taking notes. I use my notes to help me start the search for relevant art that pertains to the invention in the application. Though the work is very demanding and challenging, the end result provides me a high sense of accomplishment because the research I have done helps me determine an invention’s patentability.
The most interesting application I’ve ever reviewed was a process cartridge that had a unique drive system. The applicant filed many related and copending applications subsequently. After a couple of interviews with the applicant’s legal representatives, the importance of the protection the applicant was seeking became very clear. Years later, in reviewing one of the copending applications, the file had an enormous amount of non-patent literature that was relevant to the Court proceedings and findings. The Court determined and affirmed the validity of the parent cases, and thereby set the course for the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to seize all knock-offs that would enter the U.S. through the black market.