Friday, July 20, 2007

Resolution of Conflict

Last night after fuming to the point that I was ready to start a fight I tried talking calmly to my wife who was already defensive, argumentative, and upset at me from my previous tirades.

I spoke to her calmly, and thank G-d she's a good-hearted person. She listened to me and heard me out which is exactly what I needed. She then gave me her advice and after a bit of arguing, etc. we kind of got an understanding of each other.

Yesterday was not one of my highlights of being a husband, but it does show how one miscommunication after the other can build up to a huge fight where we were fighting and getting angry at every minute detail of the things the other was doing when in fact we were angry about something else. Namely, she was upset about me having a "poor-me" mentality, and I was upset about her not supporting me.

This morning was much better. We woke up, had coffee, talked about what needed to get done today, and she went off to the store and I went to work at the dining room table. We were very polite to each other (which is the key to getting along in a marriage -- being polite to one another) and I was happy that our fight was over.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Completed the Synthetic Organic Patent!

I can't believe I completed this patent! It was killer. In order to do this patent, I needed to understand this patent (where the chemistry was quite tough), and then I needed to find in the prior art a patent which did the same thing. After days of searching non-stop, I started to feel as if all of the chemical compounds were looking the same. Finally, I stumbled onto something that worked. I called my new (third) boss who gave me great advice on how to render the claims in our application obvious and invalid based on the prior art that I found. I wrote up the paperwork, and I submitted it around 6pm tonight.

I feel so relaxed that I got this done. It was a lot of work, but it was a triumph that I was able to complete this -- in three days, no less! I was expecting to take over a week on this. Halleluyah!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Synthetic Organic patents, here I come!

This coming week will be quite exciting for me. I will get a chance to do a prior art search / validation search on a synthetic organic patent -- one that is over 300 pages in length and is totally complex for me! I figure that if I will be able to do this, then I can become familiar with synthetic organic patents which will score me the job in the patent prosecution field I can't wait to get into! I will be devoting all week to learning how to do a search on this kind of patent.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Boss Problems

My second week wasn't so bad. I was very frustrated most of the week because I had one of my patent files due, but my new boss for the file would not return any of my phone calls. When I finally climbed the chain of command in the company, I finally got to her boss who called her at her home and yelled at her why she didn't return any of my phone calls or e-mails. She then proceeded to yell at me as if it was my fault she didn't answer her phone for days at a time when the file was coming due.

In short, I told her that her behavior was unprofessional and that if I spent the time doing research on the patent and writing my opinion validating and invalidating the claims, the least she could do is return my phone calls and read my e-mails. Or, at the very least, e-mail me or call me telling me that she is unavailable and giving me a time that she would be available. She disagreed with me and acted childish, and later on that day, she called me up and apologized for her behavior.

I worked the rest of the day and the following day and I finished up the file and submitted it. A day or so later, payment for that file AND the file I did earlier last week (the one that was pulled from my docket) was approved. This was great! I checked it out and apparently, they liked my work on the first file, even though they pulled the file from my docket. In short, they realized that I worked on the case sufficiently to complete it, but my boss did not help me out so they paid me anyway.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Job Stresses

The patent attorney position was very exciting for me because I was actually doing the work of a patent attorney. This is what I worked towards for so many years! Thank G-d I've finally been given the opportunity to work in the field I trained in.

In short, the position as I understand it is that I am a pre-examiner for a law firm who has been contracted by the foreign wing of the US patent office to examine patents before the examiners get to them. The USPTO has been quite backlogged these past few years, and so I am one of the attorneys who are working on the files that have taken quite a while for the examiners to get to. I have access to the same resources as the patent examiners, and so I can see what they see which on the one hand is exciting for me, and on the other hand is a bummer because they are a bit not yet up to date on the searching technology they use.

My first case was a killer, probably because it had so many sub-parts to it. It wasn't one invention, it was around 5 or 6 crammed into one patent. Further, above me is a boss for each of my patent files, and my boss wasn't too helpful in helping me search for prior art references. In fact, I found him to be quite on the lazy side in that he didn't want to help me in searching for the references I could not find. He just wanted to get paid his portion of what he would get paid when I turned in the file.

I worked on that case for over 50 hours before I submitted the file for my boss' review. During my prior art searching, I regularly sent my boss status updates so that he can see which references I am using and could comment (or give me constructive advice) on what I was doing. "Great job!" he said over and over again... Well, when I submitted the file, I realized that he hadn't been reading any of the work that I have been doing because he rejected my work telling me that a prior art reference that I used (and that I asked him about before I used it) had a publication date later than the priority date / filing date of the patent application that I was examining. In US law, it's the filing date that takes priority in a dispute between two applications. In foreign patent law, it is the publication date that takes precedence. How was I supposed to know this? I am a US patent attorney, not a foreign patent attorney. In short, my opinion and the 50 hours I spent was for nothing. On top of that, my incompetent boss complained to his bosses about me and told them I was incompetent.

Honestly, I will accept blame for mistakes when I make them, but I checked this reference with my boss before I used it. Had he taken any time to read my e-mails or actually do due diligence in answering me properly, he would have caught that mistake before I used it rather than 50 hours later after applying that patent to every claim in the application. I was very annoyed and the law firm removed the case from my docket, which means that I don't get paid on it.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Took a job as a Patent Attorney doing VPN Remote Work

Wow, I can't believe that it has been almost a month since I've written. I can't say things are better. In fact, things have deteriorated a bit based on my mood which seems to be affecting everybody around me. Since I know I have a lot to say, I'll break this post into bite-sized parts. This is part I.

Around a month ago, I took a temporary document review job in a law firm that paid almost nothing and had a 5 hour daily commute (around 2 hours each way), but because my wife was on maternity and we lost her salary, I felt that it would be better to work so that we could pay the bills, so I took the job.

The job cut off any free time I had to apply to patent attorney positions, and because I was leaving at 6am and getting home at sometimes 10pm or 11pm, I wasn't spending much time with my wife. Further, we were starting to feel the stress of the job on our relationship because I was tired all the time. Combining all that with the fact that the document review bosses ran the position like a sweatshop, the money didn't seem worth it after a while.

Around the same time I received a job offer as a patent attorney working remotely, where I would be reviewing patent applications and finding prior art to invalidate them. I called it the "dark patent attorney" position because our job as patent attorneys is to write patents and create new patents, not to kill them. This seemed like the evil side of the coin. The only problem is that it didn't pay nearly as much as my temporary position, and it had a very steep learning curve. To become an expert searcher of patents, it would take weeks if not months of work, and the pay would not be good until I got good at it.

After talking to my wife about the fact that the document review position would be over in a few months coupled with the fact that I would be unemployed in a month or so again, we decided that it would be wise to leave the document review position and take the remote patent attorney position.