What is a patent examiner?

What is a patent examiner?

Patent examiners are government employees who work in the government’s patent office. In the US, examiners work at the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office). Patent examiners have a technical background in engineering, science, or other areas of technology.

Patent examiners assess patent applications. The assessment process has several factors:

  1. The examiners ensure that the patent application is within the patent office's guidelines and regulations. They pay serious attention to formatting and other formal requirements for patent applications.

  2. The examiners ensure that the invention falls into a patentable category. Patentable categories cover any type of technology.

  3. The examiners assess the claims of patent applications based on novelty and inventiveness. The claims determine the level of protection that an invention will receive. The examiners ensure that no one else has described the invention before, and that the invention is not just a small adjustment or alteration of the prior art.

  4. The examiners provide an assessment report, or office action, based on their findings. The report contains an expert opinion and patent search findings. If the office action is not favorable, the inventor needs to provide arguments as to why the examiner is wrong about the invention.

Patent examiners make decisions about patentability based on the prior art, the protection being requested, the nature of the invention, formatting guidelines, patent drawings, innovation descriptions, and other factors. As an inventor, you have to make sure that you clearly describe your invention so that the patent examiner can make an informed decision about your patent.

We do recommend consulting a patent agent rather than trying to handle this process yourself. The process is very complicated and it’s easy to make a fatal mistake.


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