Patent office revs up telecommuting

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week launched a six-month telecommuting pilot for some of its senior patent examiners.

The pilot will help the USPTO determine whether it's feasible to have at least 10 percent of its senior patent examiners work from home one day each week. The project is part of a larger agreement—which also includes a special pay scale and improved automation tools—between the agency and the Patent Office Professional Association.

During the pilot, 125 patent examiners will work from home one day a week—some using their own computers and some using computers supplied by the agency.

Twenty-five employees will perform their full duties using USPTO-provided workstations and will have access to full electronic searching over encrypted high-speed data lines. Meanwhile, over 100 examiners will work from home using their own computers and other USPTO-provided equipment to read and respond to correspondence from applicants.

Last month, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments presented the USPTO a 2001 Commuter Connections Employee Recognition Telework Award for its Trademark Work-at-Home program. The agency has more than 90 of its 400 trademark examining attorneys working from home.

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