“After my masters in semiconductor physics, my PhD and a couple of years in industry, I became aware of the scale of the impact that patents have in our world.
I therefore decided that I wanted to work at the cutting edge of technology, where inventions are considered more closely. I am a true engineer and I enjoy studying the technical side of things. It had, however, become clear to me that pursuing a “career” in industry mostly meant no longer being able to work hands on an engineer.
Together with my quest to work in a truly multi-cultural environment, Europe’s largest patent institution was a natural choice for me.
My hope was that real engineering skills were vital and valued at the EPO, and I was not disappointed! Your technical expertise is so important to the Office that you are supported where possible so that you can stay up to date in technology.
Working as a patent examiner means that at a technical level you are very close to the newest technology trends, without actually being an inventor yourself. My job comprises of two tasks with quite a different dynamic. The first involves doing a literature search by looking at many patent and scientific documents and deciding within moments whether a document is important for the invention I am judging or not. The second is to conduct a careful and detailed examination of the patent, which may take hours and where your legal judgement is just as important as your technical assessment of it.
Even though the largest part of the work by far is in English, working in three languages gives this job its additional unique touch, sometimes making the work more complex, but mostly adding a fantastic intellectual challenge. And evidently, the 38 nations that together form the EPO give the organisation a distinctive international flavour, and, coupled with the highly specialised technical and legal nature of our work, not to be found anywhere else in the world.
Having an open personality, I enjoy communicating and presenting. Therefore I also greatly appreciate the fact that, for those who are interested, there are so many additional roles you can take on that cover internal, external and international aspects of the work carried out at EPO. I am, for example, a trainer at the EPO’s 6-week newcomer’s academy, and I also provide training to examiners in other patent offices around the world. Moreover, I support my department in recruiting new colleagues by carrying out technical interviews, and I have participated in several internal office projects to keep our examiner software up to date.
So you can see, there are plenty of possibilities in this job!”
Patent Examiner / European Patent Office / Germany