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


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  1. identicon
    In the Know, 12 Aug 2014 @ 8:18am

    Some Missing Points

    Patent Examiners work on a production system, similar to a quota. Some can get their work done in less time, others take more (humans don't all have the same abilities). The Patent Office is a Performance Based Oganization and every individual's performance is closely monitored, quantity and quality. If you are given 10 hours to a task, and it only takes you 8, and that's an average that works for you, what do you do with the extra time? Many work it and claim the bonus that's been mentioned for producing more units than were expected of them. Also, keep in mind that "not working at telework" is the same as reading the paper in your office or taking a smoke/coffee break. The only difference is where you are. Still, at any organization, there will always be a minority that are poor performers and system abusers. The larger the organization, the more of those people that make up that minority. Everything is relative, so be careful with generalizations

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