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A patent examiner is a federal employee who examines submitted patent applications to determine whether to grant a patent. The examination includes reviewing formalities (compliance with governing rules), conducting prior art searches, and interacting with inventors and applicants.  

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ADAPT Professional Guide

Patent Examiner


“As a patent examiner, I can apply my scientific background to research inventions to evaluate patent applications with applicable patent laws.  It gives me an opportunity to continue to learn about new and emerging technologies, while also providing an opportunity for a career in public service.”
- Primary Patent Examiner


Undergraduate degree in engineering/science

Job Description and Responsibilites

A patent examiner examines submitted patent applications to determine whether to grant a patent.  The examination of patent applications includes determining whether they comply with patent laws and issuing communications to patent owners regarding the status of the application.  As part of determining whether patent applications comply with patent laws, patent examiners perform prior art searches and analyses, as well as reviewing the patent application to ensure the patent applications meet formality requirements.

Marie's Path 

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Ex -U.S. Patent Examiner,
Current In-house Counsel

In my current role as a patent examiner, I review patent applications in the data processing arts to determine whether to grant a patent based on the applicable patent laws. As part of this, I perform prior art searches to determine whether the invention in the patent application is new. I communicate my decisions with patent applicants and consider their rebuttals.  


And, this is the path I took to get here.


USPTO Patent Examiner

Law Clerk at Law Firm

Attend Law Firm at night

Law Firm Associate


In-house Counsel

Electrical Engineering (B.S.)

Law Degree

In-house Secondee

These pros and cons were provided by professionals in the field and are purely subjective.



Flexible work hours


Flexible time off 


Government benefits 


Teleworking options


Can be a stepping stone to a patent agent or patent attorney role

Limited Growth 


Lack of variety 


Solitary work

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