Monday, December 19, 2005

DETAILS OF USPTO'S TELEWORK PROGRAM RELEASED- The USPTO released further details this weekend regarding the moving hundreds of employees working out of their offices and into a work-from-home arrangement.

The program is intended to free up office space required to accommodate a significant increase in the patent division's workforce. The workforce is projected to grow by about a thousand a year through fiscal 2008, as the USPTO brings on more people to help reduce its backlog of patent applications. Furthermore, the arrangement is being used to attract recent graduates that may be intimidated by the sky-high housing prices in the Washington DC area. All of the examiners are eligible for the program:

Starting in February, the agency plans to put 40 employees at a time through a two-week training course on telework. The courses will continue until September 2006, when the number of trained employees is expected to top out at about 500. The division plans to continue moving 500 employees to telework arrangements each year.

The system, known as "hoteling," is set up so that for every three employees in the telework program, there will be one office space, which could be a standard cubicle or an actual office. Participants are expected to work in the office as little as one day a week.

No details were given on how the USPTO would address interviews between applicants and teleworking examiners, although it is presumed that telephonic interviews would be conducted from the examiner's home, and in-person interviews would be conducted at the office, like before.

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