USPTO Responds to Patent Bar Gender Gap Inquiry, Mulls Changes to Registration Process

By La'Cee Conley
January 25, 2021

“The Office is currently considering a number of changes based on its ongoing evaluation, including adding common Category B degrees to Category A; accepting advanced degrees under Category A; and accepting a combination of core sciences under Category B, Option 4.” – USPTO Response to Senators

https://depositphotos.com/314776360/stock-photo-photo-gender-inequality-concept-wooden.htmlThe 2020 “Progress and Potential” report produced by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) focused on women and inventorship. Recently, however, members of Congress asked the USPTO to consider a gender gap in patent practitioners, rather than inventors. This request is based on an article authored by Mary T. Hannon of DePaul University that argued that there is a formidable gender gap in individuals eligible for the patent bar, primarily based on the categories of technical background required to sit for the exam.

Last week, the USPTO replied to the December letter—which was sent by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Coons (D-DE)—citing statistics that found 29.22% of the 397 applicants that have taken and passed the registration examination since October 2019 selected the “Ms.” field on their applications and that, of the 1,937 applicants who have submitted applications electronically since October 19, 2019, 65.67% chose the “Mr.” salutation while only 34.33% chose “Ms.”

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Senators’ Letter

The senators’ letter requested answers to a number of questions regarding the alleged gender gap and noted:

Unless there has been a significant increase in the number of women admitted to the patent bar in the ensuing years, female membership lags far behind the share of women earning degrees in either science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields (~36%5 ) or the law (~50%6 ).

The senators further reasoned that such an inquiry was appropriate because “women inventors would likely benefit from having access to women patent practitioners.” In comments provided to the USPTO in support of the SUCCESS Act study, Professor Eric Goldman and Jess Miers explained that women patent prosecutors can “bring extra substantive expertise on goods and services catering to women customers…[,] women patent prosecutors use their unique social networks to cultivate and support women inventors,…and they make it easier for women inventors to “see” themselves in the patent system.” The USPTO must encourage women practitionership because it sets the requirements for patent practitioners as a whole and therefore serves as a “gatekeeper” to the patent bar, added the senators’ letter.

The USPTO requires that all candidates pass a six hour, 100-question exam in order to practice and that they possess certain scientific and technical acumen. Today, the USPTO only allows college graduates with undergraduate degrees in 32 specific majors to automatically sit for the exam. These majors are called Category A and include both hard, engineering, and physical sciences. The letter stated that these are “degrees that disproportionately go to men.” One section the senators pointed to as problematic is that the requirement is an undergraduate degree, whereas many women earn their master’s degrees in STEM fields at a higher rate than they earn undergraduate degrees in the same subjects. The letter further noted that if a candidate were educated in computer science, they can only sit for the patent bar if their degree program is accredited by the Computer Science Accreditation Commission of the Computing Science Accreditation Board (CSAB) or the Computing Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Further, the letter indicated that the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) denies automatic qualification to college graduates if the degree is not listed as exactly shown in the Category A list—meaning the candidate would have to fill out additional paperwork to qualify. The senators stated that “the additional work provides a disincentive for otherwise qualified candidates to apply for the patent bar.”

Lastly, the letter set forth six specific questions for the USPTO to address. These questions ranged from what percentage of registered patent practitioners are women to how many individuals, broken down by gender, did not qualify under any of the categories for eligibility. These questions also included whether over the past five years the USPTO received requests to change the criteria for admission to the patent bar and when the USPTO last evaluated its criteria for admission to the patent bar.

Practitioners Sound Off

Soon after this letter was published, practitioners began to comment. Most notably, IPWatchdog Founder and CEO Gene Quinn authored two pieces addressing the article the letter was based upon and the letter itself—Lowering the Bar to Diversify the Patent Bar Would Be Misguided and  Unethical; and Solving the Patent Bar Gender Gap Without Lowering the Bar to Eligibility. In these pieces, Quinn said that one problem that lies in expanding the cache of degrees eligible for the patent bar is that “large firms and corporations certainly would not” hire a nurse, psychology major or philosophy major who doesn’t otherwise qualify under Category B…and everyone in the industry willing to be honest knows this to be true.”

Instead, Quinn suggested that a real solution to any real or perceived gender gap in the patent bar is to encourage more young women to pursue STEM education early in life. He said that this is an “input problem rather than an output problem” because:

We see fewer women who are inventors, scientists, engineers, and patent practitioners…and no amount of lowering the bar to allow people who are unqualified and likely won’t find a job will change the fact that not enough is being done to encourage elementary school females to pursue STEM, and then subsequently as they age throughout junior high school and into high school.

USPTO Response

In response to the letter, the USPTO cited statistics based on which signifier—“Mr.” or “Ms.”—applicants for the patent bar registration exam chose, and looked at both paper and  electronic submissions for registration. The USPTO also said that it would be open to a more comprehensive look at a potential gender gap issue. Importantly, the USPTO said that it has not undertaken “any formal studies specific to evaluating the impact of admission criteria to the patent bar on the diversity of patent practitioners.” However, it does continuously evaluate the category criteria for applicants to sit for the bar to ensure fairness in the process and that patent practitioners “who are qualified, understand the technology, and able to effectively communicate with inventors are able to provide competent service to inventors….”

The Office is currently considering a number of changes based on its ongoing evaluation, including adding common Category B degrees to Category A (which would expand Category A to include fields like aerospace engineering, bioengineering, biological science, biophysics, electronics engineering, genetic engineering, genetics, marine engineering, materials engineering, materials science, neuroscience, ocean engineering, and textile engineering); accepting advanced degrees under Category A; and accepting a combination of core sciences under Category B, Option 4 (which would allow applicants to satisfy the requirement with a combination of chemistry, physics and biology classes, “as long as one has a lab component”).

Also based on its ongoing evaluation, the USPTO looked in 2019 at granting a limited form of registration wherein a practitioner could be admitted solely to practice design patents. Ultimately, the analysis resulted in a discussion of whether such an admission would result in fragmentation of the patent bar, decrease the protection for the public from unqualified practitioners, and would drain the resources of the USPTO, and the Office chose not to change the criteria at that time. However, the USPTO’s response noted that “this should not prevent the USPTO from reconsidering this issue in the future.”

Overall, statistics showed that of 8,540 applicants in the past five years, 8,049 were admitted, resulting in a 97.34% rate of Category A applicants admitted. Only 4.23% of all applicants were disapproved to sit for the patent bar, which could have resulted from any number of reasons, including failure to pay application fees or failing to provide all required documentation. Of that, only 2.44% of “Mr.” applicants and 3.76% of “Ms.” applicants were disapproved.

However, of the 1,937 applicants who have submitted applications electronically since October 19, 2019, 65.67% chose the “Mr.” salutation while only 34.33% chose “Ms.”—for Category A applicants, 32.55% were “Ms.” applicants; for Category B, 40.63% were “Ms.”; and for Category C only 6.67% were “Ms.”

Of the 397 applicants that have taken and passed the registration examination since October 2019, 29.22% selected the “Ms.” field on their applications.

The USPTO has committed to further investigate a potential gender gap in the patent bar and to collect more comprehensive data at Congress’ request.

Separately, the Office has responded to the gender gap with respect to patent applicants by creating the National Council for Expanding American Innovation (NCEAI). To learn more about a recent discussion addressing the formation and purpose of the NCEAI, click here.

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Copyright:AndreyPopov 

The Author

La'Cee Conley

La'Cee Conley is an experienced international intellectual property attorney and owner of Conley Consulting & Portfolio Advisors. After earning Bachelor degrees in physical chemistry and in neuroscience, she earned her Juris Doctor and Master of Law at Drake University, specializing in international intellectual property and international law. She completed her Master of Business Administration at Iowa State University. She currently specializes in patents, trademarks, and copyrights around the world relating to chemical, nanochemical, small molecule, biological, neurological, pharmaceutical, oil & gas, and general mechanical applications.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com 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 IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 29 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Anon January 25, 2021 5:04 pm

    reasoned that such an inquiry was appropriate because “women inventors would likely benefit from having access to women patent practitioners.”

    I am offended by the pandering and sexist nature of that point of view.

    Clearly, we are in the weeds of “but some are more equal” here.

    What next, a government person in charge of civil rights that believes that level of melanin gives extra special spiritual powers?

    Oh, wait…

  2. BP January 25, 2021 5:20 pm

    It’s really too funny, patent practice diversity is a higher priority than Google’s dreadful workfarce diversity? Where billions in profits were generated to enrich mainly men of certain ethnic backgrounds? The poor in Silicon Valley include women, some dragged to this country when the monopolies hired their husbands, who then kicked them out the door without sufficient support to be able to afford living in Palo Alto and surrounds (check the data).

    Hannon’s article has a real stink to it. “Hello” LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer, both supported by Stanford’s Hoover Institute (think chemical engineering drop-out fraud Elizabeth Holmes and nutcases Scott Atlas and Richard Epstein). Rocket Lawyer is funded and promoted by Google Ventures. This is part of Hoover’s plan to deregulate the practice of law and replace with bots (and any warm body) for corporate profit. How many have stories of people that consulted LegalZoom? Which then sold their information to its “partners” to bombard them with “allied-service” spam while providing questionable legal “advice”?

    Further, people at Indiana University’s Mauer School of Law are leading the way in promoting the deregulation of the legal profession (see efforts in CA and UT). So, of course, they were all too eager to publish Hannon’s article.

    That said, we can all work a bit harder to increase diversity. I’ve been on committees that hired US minorities and women, come to think of it, I never said “no” because they were all qualified and, indeed, became great examples for others to follow.

    My first “boss” was a woman patent attorney and I’ve had women bosses in biological and food sciences. People in these sciences qualify/should qualify, noting that “nearly half (49%) of the membership of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is female”.

    The USPTO as an agency, like other agencies and institutions, is under attack by the monopolists and this smells like a diversion, just like 35 USC 101 diversion. Expect more of the same as Big Ad spins the revolving door into this new administration and dumps $$$ on academics to be their policy mouthpieces.

  3. Pro Say January 25, 2021 7:29 pm

    . . . and . . . in like manner, what should be done about the large, oh-so-painful, oh-so-wrong gender “gap” in . . . nursing . . . in teaching . . . in human resource departments . . . in all fields of employment . . . where there are more women than men?

    Should the standards be lowered for those professions, too?

    Sheesh.

  4. Nancy Linck January 26, 2021 7:59 am

    I offer the perspective of a woman who served as the Solicitor of the PTO and an APJ.

    I agree completely with Mr. Quinn’s responses. To my knowledge, the PTO has not discriminated against women. If a woman is qualified and passes the patent bar, she is admitted. The qualifications attempt to ensure each member of the bar is capable of representing patent applicants in the PTO. The problem, as Mr. Quinn pointed out, is that fewer women than men have chosen to go into STEM fields (those that would qualify them to practice before the PTO). It appears what Congress is seeking is affirmative action by the PTO with respect to bar admission. As has been shown time and again, affirmative action simply does not work and will not work in this situation. Rather it will set women up for failure and will risk poor representation of those seeking help with the protection of their inventions.

  5. Scott Anderson January 26, 2021 9:01 am

    This idea of “lowering of standards” by allowing different degrees, levels and/or qualifications is nonsense. You can have a mechanical engineering degree, pass the patent bar, and then go and work on software and pharma patents for which you have absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. The degree requirements are nothing more than rent-seeking and should be abolished entirely. If you can pass the patent bar you can practice; if not, not.

  6. xtian January 26, 2021 9:21 am

    Isn’t the form of the USPTO at fault here? It is gender binary. The form should at least have the 9 commonly accepted gender pronouns that are accepted and promoted by all Enlighted universities.

    Further thought experiment, why does it matter how many more “Mr.” than “Ms” there are when one can self-identify as either/neither/or both? Shouldn’t the conclusion be that more potential patent examiners identify as male than female? And does that conclusion even matter? I mean, why is it a problem that more potential examiners self-identify as male when we know that there are no differences between males and females (or those that self identify as both)?

    We should just eliminate that portion of the application form and then all are equal, right?

  7. TFCFM January 26, 2021 9:30 am

    I propose that federal troops sequester a Congressionally-specified number of female pre-schoolers and force them — at gun-point if necessary — to become patent practitioners.

  8. Curious January 26, 2021 11:17 am

    You can have a mechanical engineering degree, pass the patent bar, and then go and work on software and pharma patents for which you have absolutely no qualifications whatsoever. The degree requirements are nothing more than rent-seeking and should be abolished entirely. If you can pass the patent bar you can practice; if not, not.

    The ignorance evidenced by this comment is astounding. First, having a mechanical engineering does not disqualify one from working with software. While it has been a very long time since I got my degree, we were working with (and writing or own) software in our engineering program a long, long time ago. I suspect nearly every engineering student is exposed to some level of software as part of his/her program.

    Like most technologies, there are different levels of software that require different levels of understanding. There are a number of software applications that any engineer should be able to handle. However, as the technology becomes more esoteric, the more one needs a degree more finely tuned to that specific technology.

    As for pharma patents, very few pharma companies are going to let a mechanical engineer touch their patents. Unless you have a PhD, odds are good that a law firm won’t let you touch the pharma patents coming in the door either.

    The patent bar does not test for technical competence. One can learn the law and pass the patent bar without knowing anything about technology. This is why there are additional school requirements for becoming a member of the bar.

    The article by Mary Hannon suggested that people, for example, with nursing and psychology degrees be allowed to sit for the patent bar exam. I would have zero confidence that someone with such a degree could handle a patent on a mechanical device of just moderate difficulty — which is something that I would expect almost all patent attorneys should be able to handle. The only people I wouldn’t expect that of would be patent attorneys that do hardcore chemistry, pharma, and bio-tech. However, they have their own niche that the rest of us rarely intrude upon.

    The simple problem with opening up the patent bar to currently-excluded STEM programs is that the number of technologies that one could reasonably expect these people to handle are very small. No respectable law firm is going to want to hire people that cannot handle much of the technology that comes through the door. As such, you’ll see a flood of these people hanging up shingles, offering to write patent applications, without having the capability to handle the vast majority of the technology that walks through the door. This is not good for the patent system, as a whole, as it will reduce the confidence of the public in the profession.

    I understand the position taken by the critics — they’ll argue that we are just trying to protect our monopoly on the business. There is a certain logic to that criticism. However, the reality is that the people that they want to allow to take the patent bar are simply unqualified to practice before the USPTO.

    I believe I am very good at learning new technology. It is one of my greatest strengths. However, there are still times when I struggle to learn some particular new technology because it uses esoteric language and concepts that might as well be Greek to me. That being said, I cannot imagine how anybody with no engineering coursework could handle even a small fraction of the technologies I handle. Sure, maybe there are some that could. However, an inventor shouldn’t be playing Russian roulette when they look to have a patent application drafted and prosecuted.

    If the Patent Office wants underqualified people to qualify for the Patent Bar, how about they do a pilot program in which they hire these people to be patent examiners. The Patent Office can then monitor their progress (and be able to compare them to new examiners who do have the requisite technical qualifications) and see how well they perform. If the Patent Office determines that these people (with lesser degrees) perform just as well as examiners, then they can change the qualifications for registering for the patent bar.

    I propose that federal troops sequester a Congressionally-specified number of female pre-schoolers and force them — at gun-point if necessary — to become patent practitioners.
    What can I say? TCFCM being TFCFM. He is like the embarrassing uncle who you have to invite over for family gatherings but hope doesn’t show — unfortunately he is usually the first to arrive and the last to leave.

  9. mike January 26, 2021 11:42 am

    Amen to what Nancy said.
    and
    Awoman to what Nancy said.
    :\

  10. BP January 26, 2021 2:02 pm

    @8 Curious: “As such, you’ll see a flood of these people hanging up shingles, offering to write patent applications, without having the capability to handle the vast majority of the technology that walks through the door. This is not good for the patent system, as a whole, as it will reduce the confidence of the public in the profession.”

    Good job, you stated an intermediate state to “gig” in a nutshell.

    The LegalZooms/Rocket Lawyers aim to deregulate in the name of “access to justice”, which is fostered by some at
    Maurer School of Law (Indiana University Bloomington), Stanford/Hoover and University of Toronto. They disguise themselves cleverly and they even proclaim to be pro-regulation, they propose “regulation” so faulty (think AIA) that it collapses on itself bc public resources are insufficient to handle the regulator burden, leaving chaos, a vacuum and no regulation (i.e., the ultimate goal).

    I listened to Cal Bar “access to justice” meetings, which had NOTHING to do with access to justice, rather, they were about “tech” companies’ access to legal services through algorithms and cheap labor (think “Uber”). Those “tech” companies are funded by entities such as Google Ventures, that give them preferential treatment in ranking/ad. Other startups can’t compete.

    The Hannon article will be used to create what you say, people that law firms will not hire but LegalZoom/Rocket Lawyer will “gig” at low cost/high volume for corporate profit at the demise of the patent system/innovators, as they continually push to deregulate (i.e., “disrupt”).

  11. American Cowboy January 26, 2021 2:58 pm

    I have been a patent attorney since the 1970’s, back when women were first becoming accepted in many areas of business and law. In all of those years I have not seen any instance that women were discriminated against because they were women. Women and men who can’t do the job are discriminated against, but that is because they can’t do the job. Gender has consistently been irrelevant. The patent profession is one of the most accepting and welcoming professions for people of all genders, races, religions, what-have-you. You only get excluded for incompetence.

  12. David Lewis January 26, 2021 3:12 pm

    Perhaps there is an input problem, and perhaps there is not much that the US Patent and Trademark Office can do that will significantly solve the problem, short of lowering the qualifications. However, it seems to me that looking into the matter and seeing if the US Patent and Trademark Office can make adjustments that might reduce the problem at least somewhat without reducing the quality of the practitioners admitted to the bar (even if it does not come anywhere close to in fact solving problem) is probably good.

    If nothing else, denying people permission to sit for the bar because the “degree is not listed as exactly shown,” seems a bit problematic.

  13. AAA JJ January 26, 2021 4:07 pm

    “There is a certain logic to that criticism.”

    Because the criticism is true.

    “If the Patent Office determines that these people (with lesser degrees)…”

    The condescension is pathetic.

    “…I cannot imagine how anybody with no engineering coursework could handle even a small fraction of the technologies I handle.”

    Get over yourself.

  14. Nancy Linck January 26, 2021 4:28 pm

    If I recall correctly from my days as Solicitor (a role in which my office oversaw the patent exam), the PTO does not require an exact-named degree but instead considers equivalent degrees.

  15. BP January 26, 2021 6:59 pm

    Anyone consider how insurance companies are going to welcome the suggested/proposed changes? Will an insurance company insure a person with lesser technical qualifications holding a reg number without a rider or upcharge? Will that person then sue for “bias”?

    Why not attack the PE exam too?

    From NSPE:
    1. Earn a four-year degree in engineering from an accredited engineering program.
    2. Pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam.
    3. Complete four years of progressive engineering experience under a PE.
    4. Pass the Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) exam.

    I’m from a family with brilliant women engineers. Have they experienced various forms of discrimination? Yes. There are ways to deal with that, which have nothing to do with changing exams (unless exam questions are inherently biased).

  16. jim January 26, 2021 7:08 pm

    “Instead, Quinn suggested that a real solution to any real or perceived gender gap in the patent bar is to encourage more young women to pursue STEM education early in life. ”

    Great, except for one thing. The most liberal, ‘progressive’ countries that encourage women to go into STEM from a young age have a pronounced gender gap in STEM in all age cohorts.

    Look at Sweden, Denmark, Italy, etc. Relatively low STEM levels for females in all of those countries.

    Want to know which countries have high levels of female participation in STEM?

    Autocratic, patriarchal countries. Often totalitarian ones at that. The Soviet Union, North Korea, China, Iran, etc etc.

    Don’t take my word for it, simply go and look up the variety of studies on the subject.

    I suppose that the woke crowd is trying to turn the USA into something like a totalitarian state, but they might have to embrace sharia to get the desired female participation in STEM.

  17. Curious January 26, 2021 8:44 pm

    Because the criticism is true.
    Dude … criticizing the US Olympic swim team for not allowing slow swimmers to compete in the qualifying races because it will protect the monopoly (by faster swimmers) on being on the swim team (i.e., it is a discriminatory practice) misses the point. The point is that you want fast swimmers on the swim team because that is how you win Olympic races.

    Allowing unqualified people to take the patent bar will lead to unqualified people writing patents applications — which is detrimental to the patent system as a whole. No one wants to see slow swimmers in an Olympic qualifying race, and nobody wants to see lousy patent applications written by people who don’t understand the technology, filed at the patent office.

    Granted, qualified people draft lousy applications as well. However, a filter (as to who is qualified) needs to be set somewhere, and I would rather set it such that I can reasonably expect a decent application from someone qualified rather than allow a whole bunch of people for whom I have little expectation of being able to understand the vast majority of technologies.

    Imagine if electrician licenses were handed out to anybody who wanted one. Would you feel comfortable hiring an electrician with such a license to do wiring on your house? If the electrician wires the house wrong, it could go up in smoke. The purpose of an electrician license is not to protect the monopoly of the people who already have them — rather the purpose of an electrician’s license is to protect the people who would hire said electrician. The electrician’s license is a recognition, by some authority, that the electrician has a minimum level of competence.

    The condescension is pathetic.
    Cry me a river of tears. I don’t care.

    Get over yourself.
    Oh the tears …

  18. PeteMoss January 26, 2021 9:28 pm

    When I was in the service, my Reserve base was criticized for not having enough minority officers. They did a survey, and found out that the local ROTC programs were not commissioning many minority officers, and the percentage of minority officers on the base was actually higher than the percentage of minorities enrolled in local commissioning sources. If you want more women in the patent bar, do not change the admission standards. Change the number of women enrolled in Category A fields of study.

  19. Anon January 27, 2021 7:04 am

    Why isn’t the author of this article a registered patent attorney or agent?
    https://oedci.uspto.gov/OEDCI/practitionerSearchEntry

  20. Anon January 27, 2021 12:32 pm

    Sister Anon, good question, especially as her bio inputs the flavor of specializing in patent applications and as such implies a speciality perhaps not present.

    There is the small saving grace that she does not actually use the term “patent attorney.”

  21. MaxDrei January 27, 2021 2:24 pm

    To my mind, there should be a system of qualification by written examination that tests whether the examinee has an acceptable level of competence in the core professional tasks entrusted to a patent attorney by their client.

    First and foremost is the elusive competence to draft a not invalid claim that captures all the scope that the client is entitled to. Here in Europe, every year, loads of top class engineering and natural science graduates, even after years in a patent law firm, fail to satisfy the Examiners as to their competence in claim drafting.

    Some examinees have that competence. Many others, mysteriously, will always struggle.

    In a nutshell, that’s the joy and the exhilaration of this uniquely wonderful profession.

  22. Anon January 27, 2021 4:00 pm

    “inputs” should read “imputes”

  23. Anon January 27, 2021 7:31 pm

    MaxDrei’s “To my mind” is nothing more than a “here, wear my spectacles, they work for me.”

    While perhaps a worthy point in and of itself (claim drafting is an awesome skill), the discussion AT POINT HERE is simply a different discussion.

    MaxDrei, please try to respect the fact that OUR Sovereign HAS chosen differently.

  24. George White January 30, 2021 4:40 pm

    I think the OED considering aerospace engineering, etc. as A degrees and also not excluding advanced degrees are good steps that would not dilute requirements. If there are B degrees that are frequently allowed by petition then it makes sense to look at them as new A degrees. As a side effect, if it broadens the demographics of applicants, even better.

    I do not necessarily agree in a class of practitioners restricted to design applications but isn’t it the case that design examiners do not have the same engineering requirement as other examiners? If so, there is more logic to the argument.

  25. Curious February 1, 2021 10:37 am

    I think the OED considering aerospace engineering, etc. as A degrees
    I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Aerospace engineering (from my recollection) is essentially specialized mechanical engineering.

    I do not necessarily agree in a class of practitioners restricted to design applications but isn’t it the case that design examiners do not have the same engineering requirement as other examiners? If so, there is more logic to the argument.
    There is about 1 design patent for every 10 utility patents. Considering that design patents almost always get issued (with little prosecution), at least compared to utility patents, there isn’t a big demand for utility patents. On that basis, I wouldn’t have a problem lowering the requirements for assisting with design patents. However, with so few patents being issued, I don’t see how someone could develop a practice of just design patents (perhaps if they marry that to a trademark practice). The problem I see is unsophisticated inventors who come in looking for a “patent” — not realizing that the patent they are getting is for a design patent and not a utility patent.

  26. Anon February 2, 2021 7:57 am

    Curious,

    I would prefer to see that Design Patents be removed from the Utility protecting scheme of patents entirely and placed more appropriately (under law) with other IP law that protects expression.

    No “camel’s nose under the tent” please.

  27. ipguy February 2, 2021 10:38 pm

    It would be interesting to see the gender breakdown of the Examining Corp based on the technologies they examine.
    Of course, I presume that the USPTO wouldn’t even be hiring these Examiners unless they met the degree requirements for taking the registration exam.

  28. Anon February 3, 2021 9:15 am

    ipguy,

    An interesting presumption, but one easy enough to check: https://www.uspto.gov/jobs/become-patent-examiner#:~:text=Minimum%20of%20a%20bachelor's%20degree,of%20engineering%20and%20science%20disciplines.

  29. ipguy February 3, 2021 2:41 pm

    My presumption appears to be correct.
    From the link under “Qualifications”:
    “Minimum of a bachelor’s degree in engineering or science. Successful completion of a full 4-year course at an accredited college or university leading to a bachelor’s degree, or higher, that included a major field of study, or specific course requirements, in a variety of engineering and science disciplines.”

    The above seems to comport with Categories A, B, and/or C.

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