USPTO: One of the Best Places to Work

By Gene Quinn
December 13, 2012

David Kappos at IPO on 12/10/2012, as he is receiving a standing ovation.

Earlier today the United States Patent and Trademark Office received special recognition as one of the best places to work in the United States federal government. The Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® rankings draw on responses from nearly 700,000 civil servants to produce a detailed view of employee satisfaction and commitment across 362 federal agencies and subcomponents. With a score of 80.3, the USPTO ranked #5 out of 290 in the agency subcomponent category.

“This is outstanding,” said Todd Dickinson, Executive Director of the AIPLA and himself a former Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. “It is so hard to achieve and maintain such a high ranking. Everyone at the USPTO really deserves a lot of credit for this accomplishment.”


Over the last several years the overall score for the USPTO has risen dramatically. The overall scores for previous years are:

  • 2003 — 63.0
  • 2005 — 58.6
  • 2007 — 57.2
  • 2009 — 64.3
  • 2010 — 69.6
  • 2011 — 74.1

No scores were provided for 2004 and 2006. Nevertheless, it is hard not to notice that the USPTO started an impressive rise to the top year after year under the direction of David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO. Kappos and his extremely capable team of senior officials, such as Deputy Director Terry Rea, Patent Commissioner Peggy Focarino and Trademark Commissioner Debra Cohn, as well as their deputies and assistants have really done a remarkable job with the USPTO. The patent bar has well noticed the difference in the USPTO over the past several years, and it seems quite clearly that those who work for the USPTO notice a big difference internally as well.

The USPTO ranked in the top 10 of agency subcomponents in a number of key categories this year:

  • Effective Leadership — 10 of 290
  • Effective Leadership of Senior Leaders — 9 out of 290
  • Effective Leadership of Supervisors — 8 out of 290
  • Strategic Management — 2 out of 290
  • Performance Based Rewards and Advancement — 2 out of 290
  • Alternative Work and Employee Support — 4 out of 67

The USPTO was also in the top 10 of every demographic with the exception of Employees with Disabilities, where there they still scored 18 out of 205, easily placing them within the top 10% of federal government agency subcomponents across the board in terms of diversity.

Congratulations to everyone at the USPTO! This is quite an accomplishment.

Now let’s hope things continue to look as good moving forward. With Director Kappos stepping down at the end of January 2013 we can only hope that the next leader of the USPTO will keep the momentum going. Increasingly I am hearing converging names from various sources indicating that the alleged short list contains two names specifically. These  two top contenders are Terry Rea and Todd Dickinson. Either Rea or Dickinson would be fantastic, and what Team Kappos has done certainly could be expected to continue and be built upon with either. I am also hearing names like Bob Armitage (Eli Lilly) and Jim Poole (WIPO), who like Rea and Dickinson are long time leaders within the patent and innovation industry. I have also heard that there could be a potential political appointment, but truthfully that seems more like a fear than reality, but in DC you never know.

The message here should be clear. Mr. President, this is what can happen when someone who intimately knows the industry is placed in charge of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Republican Senator Tom Coburn is on record as saying that Director Kappos has run the USPTO in exemplary fashion. So, Mr. President, please give us another highly qualified, industry knowledgeable Director. Innovation policy and execution of day-to-day activities at the USPTO require an expert.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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

Discuss this

There are currently No Comments comments.