USPTO to let examiners work at home

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced plans today to offer 500 patent examiners an opportunity to work from home next year most days of the week. USPTO officials said the agency must offer alternative work arrangements to attract and retain high-quality employees.

The expanded telework program will begin in February 2006 with two-week training sessions for about 40 employees at a time. USPTO officials said they hope to have 500 patent examiners in the telework program by September 2006.

Patent examiners who telework will come to the headquarters office in Alexandria, Va., as infrequently as once a week to attend meetings or take care of business that cannot be conducted from home. For those days, examiners will reserve time to use shared offices.

USPTO has an aggressive hiring quota for fiscal 2006 to cope with an onslaught of new patent applications. The agency received more than 400,000 patent applications in fiscal 2005, a record number. Officials said they hope to hire 1,000 patent examiners in 2006, many of them with computer and electrical engineering degrees.

The salary range for USPTO patent examiners is $34,548 to $135,136.

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