Why does Rob Hodge enjoy working at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)? “I get to learn something new every day.” And if you ask Rob to describe a typical work day, he’ll say that’s hard because “each day is different.” He spends his days in numerous meetings, working on various projects, meeting with independent inventors, and overseeing his team of patent examiners.
Rob joined the USPTO in 2004 after receiving a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. After 10 years as a patent examiner, Rob was promoted to a supervisory patent examiner, responsible for managing a unit that reviews patent applications for clutches, power stop controls, planetary gear transmission systems, and interrelated power delivery controls for vehicles.
In 2016, a one-year detail assignment opened up in the USPTO Office of Innovation Development for a pro se assistance program coordinator, and Rob applied. In this role, he educated external stakeholders about the patent process. Rob applied for the position because he enjoys training, and he likes to see people apply what he’s taught them to succeed in their work, whether they are the patent examiners in his unit or independent inventors he encountered during his detail. As Rob reflects on his time at the USPTO, what keeps him here after 13 years? He likes the friendly colleagues he’s worked with and the friends he has made throughout the agency. Many of whom came about as a result of his joining the Patent and Trademark Office Society (PTOS) on his first day of work.
Today, Rob is vice president of the PTOS, a position he pursued because he was impressed with the organization’s many activities and wanted to be more involved. Rob says, “PTOS offers a wide range of benefits and activities for its members, including happy hours, a book club, ice cream socials, picnics, an annual 5K, volunteer activities, educational courses, and discount tickets to the movies, sporting events and the theater. All of these programs provide great ways to decompress after a hard day at work, and lend themselves as helpful ways to meet new people from across the agency who have similar interests.”
So if you join the USPTO, be sure to keep the PTOS in mind as a great way to assimilate to a new work environment, learn about your employer and make fast friends.