Patent Examiners Regularly Engaged In Fraud And Abuse Via Telework Program

from the and-lied-about-it dept

For quite some time now, we've discussed how the USPTO had a massive backlog, and that former boss David Kappos solved this "problem" by getting examiners to approve more patents faster, mainly by lowering their standards and granting more patents. Whenever we write about this, we hear about overworked patent examiners who are really trying their best. Except, it appears that the system is actually rife with abuse and fraud by patent examiners:
Some of the 8,300 patent examiners, about half of whom work from home full time, repeatedly lied about the hours they were putting in, and many were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do. And when supervisors had evidence of fraud and asked to have the employee’s computer records pulled, they were rebuffed by top agency officials, ensuring that few cheaters were disciplined, investigators found.

Oversight of the telework program — and of examiners based at the Alexandria headquarters — was “completely ineffective,” investigators concluded.
This comes on the heels of a similar report about the paralegals who work at the USPTO. We had skipped that story, because it wasn't the actual examiners, but it appears that the story with examiners is basically the same. Generally, the ability to telework is a good thing, offering lots of flexibility for those who can handle it, but it's certainly also open to abuse by those who can't (or by those who wish to abuse the system). It appears that the USPTO set up the worst of all worlds in creating a telework system with no way of either truly monitoring how it was being used or any way to stop any abuses.

Oh, and worse, the USPTO then tried to hide all of this... but I'll leave that for my next post...

Filed Under: abuse, patent examiners, telework, uspto

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 12 Aug 2014 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "basically, you get paid for the number of cases you examine, not for the number of hours you work."

    "You only get paid according to the hours you put in. Which leaves the productive ones getting punished for their productivity."

    OK, I'm confused here, as that's a clear contradiction. How can it be true both that you get paid for the number of cases examined *and* for the number of hours worked? Unless you mean that they get paid for X number of hours but then bonused on the number examined?

    Bear in mind that the article doesn't just claim that the number of hours worked was lower than reported, but that bonuses were claimed that the worker wasn't entitled to. I'm interested mainly to see what that refers to - do you have that information?

    "Let me guess if the reporters at the Washington Post said anything about that kind of timesheet falsification."

    Well, if it was never reported, probably not. But, willingly putting in free hours is very different from claiming hours/bonuses that were never earned.

    Same with my employment - as a salaried worker, I routinely do different hours to that I'm officially contracted to do in order to get my job done. Sometimes this means overtime claimed back against days off in lieu, sometimes working on a Saturday instead of my standard weekdays. That's fine, and it's nobody's business except for my manager and HR unless there's a feeling that I'm being exploited or illegally forced to work well outside of my contract. But, if I did it the other way around and routinely went home 4 hours early or lied about what I've been doing in order to get more bonuses? You'd better believe that would be a firing.

    Why do you think it's different here?

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.