Tuesday, July 26, 2005

USPTO EXAMINER ARRESTED FOR TIMESHEET INFRACTIONS: In a seemingly bizarre story, the Patent Office Professional Association (POPA) is reporting that a patent examiner was handcuffed and arrested at the USPTO June 2 for the charge that he allegedly did "embezzle funds by submitting false hours of employment, such funds belonging to the U.S. Government and having a value of $200 or more," according to the arrest warrant. This marks the first time in known USPTO history that an employee has been arrested and criminally charged by local police for a workplace time or attendance infraction.

The USPTO is alleging that the embezzlement took place between February and September 2004. The agency first discussed the problem at an investigatory interview with the employee in January 2005. The agency has not clarified why it waited many, many months after these problems began to begin addressing them. Unexplained is the total absence of progressive discipline, which is the usual course for employee infractions.

The USPTO is basing its case on the ID card-in, card-out time records it keeps on employees at its new Carlyle campus.

At the investigatory interview the USPTO suggested that if the employee paid back the time, it would take that into consideration when determining consequences. The employee was working 10 hours per pay period of voluntary overtime specifically to that end. Two weeks after the investigatory meeting, two Office of the Inspector General (OIG) representatives visited the employee.

Though the examiner requested his right to consult with union counsel, the OIG reps denied that request, which is considered a gross violation of his statutory rights according to Supreme Court case law. At that meeting, the OIG reps stated that the examiner had to sign papers confirming that he was absent for specific hours. The employee and the union received no copies of those papers.

On June 2, the examiner's supervisor told the examiner that someone wanted to talk to him at the guard's desk. When he went down, OIG special agents handcuffed him and immediately turned him over to Alexandria police, who charged him with a felony, took him to jail, and released him on bail. He is awaiting trial. While POPA does not condone employees claiming pay for work not done, the union is dismayed at the extreme action taken by the agency.

UPDATE: From the Just an Examiner Blog, an Examiner posts additional information on the situation - according to the post, the fraud was quite massive in scale, and the action was taken by the IG office, which is not part of the PTO and does not answer to PTO management.

2 Comentários:

Jimmy Goebel said...

Hi Peter,
Very cool blog, I'm at work right now so can't say a whole lot yet. I'm fresh out of a toptier engineering school and wanting to get a startup going. I have an idea for a unique way to change an NTSC signal into a really nice HDTV signal which will be great for when tons of people have to buy an adaptor in 2007 because the FCC is requiring the broadcast of digital TV signals.

I actually have one or two other big ideas too - wondering where I start though to get this stuff rolling?

Where does the patent valuation process fit in??? Do you do patent valuation at all?

Do any of you patent lawyers work for free :)? I have a few college loans to pay back. And how long should I expect to wait before I get patent examination done on one of these technologies? In the NTSC to HDTV idea example, 2007 is fast approaching and I doubt the USPTO could even examine the technology and give me a result by then.

Thanks I will be sending you an email sometime if that's ok.

Jimmy Goebel said...

Oh and I forgot to ask,
Are any of you patent experts investors in the technology or startups you are helping out? Do you ever have anything personally at stake, maybe if you ever were given opportunity to own stock in a corporation that needed the services of counsel for patent and idea protection (not to mention advice about startups)...


This Blog/Web Site ("Blog") is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Use of the Blog does not create any attorney-client relationship between you and Peter Zura or his firm. Persons requiring legal advice should contact a licensed attorney in your state. Any comment posted on the Blog can be read by any Blog visitor; do not post confidential or sensitive information. Any links from another site to the Blog are beyond the control of Peter Zura and does not convey his, or his past or present employer(s) approval, support, endorsement or any relationship to any site or organization.

The 271 Patent Blog © 2008. Template by Dicas Blogger.