Life 2.0: My story of leaving the USPTO after 9.92 years to join ClearAccessIP, the AI Patent Management Company.

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Ten years ago I was fresh off graduating with a degree in electrical engineering and I wanted to make a difference.  With a love of analytical thinking, I figured that being a patent examiner for the USPTO would be a great way to leave my mark on technology.  And therein started Life 1.0, the patent examining years, which lasted precisely 9.92 years.  

For the most part, life as an examiner proved to be both challenging and fulfilling.  I was blessed to be surrounded by intelligent, passionate and supportive colleagues. I believed in the cause of protecting innovation and I didn’t take that responsibility lightly.  Every day presented itself as an opportunity to explore new inventive concepts and I embraced the challenge of determining whether these concepts were obvious under the eyes of the law.  Almost immediately however, it became glaringly obvious that the biggest bottleneck I’d encounter with regards to examining efficiency and accuracy laid within the searching process.  It was one thing to mentally process the intricate concepts of an invention, described using natural language, but quite another to formulate search queries that encapsulated these inventive concepts well enough to sift through the millions of existing patent literature.  For me, that skill developed over years and years of continual practice but there is no denying that no matter how good I got, there was always that human factor coming into play.     

Fast forward 9 years and I knew that my time as an examiner was nearing the end.  On one hand, life at the PTO is everything an employee could ask for as the job security, flexibility, and benefits are all great.  For me though, those were just excuses for me to stay at an organization that my heart and soul had long checked out of.  The things that I valued just didn’t line up with PTO.  From the PTO’s perspective,  they cared first and foremost about meeting the production quota.  Anything related to the quality of actions seemed to be an afterthought and quite honestly, given how difficult patents are to examine and how many patents are in the backlog, that makes sense.  For me though,  I placed the highest priority on the quality and thoroughness of my research, and analysis, irrespective of production time constraints.  The metric that mattered to me was how many non-final rejections I’d written (I wrote two in my first 8.5 years, both of which were arguable) but that metric wasn’t even on the PTO’s radar.  I cared deeply about the positive feedback over the quality and clarity of my interpretations, whereas the PTO cared about, you guessed it, production numbers.  With my 10th year on the horizon (9 years and 11 months to be exact),  I knew that I had to face the unknown, even if it meant completely starting over, and I quit the PTO.  I had to have faith that there was something more out there,  something that would align with my values, benefit from and embrace my attention to detail, and appreciate the skills I brought to the table.  Little did I know that this something, would be ClearAccessIP.

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The world seems to be full of coincidences that upon further inspection, with the benefit of hindsight, appears to actually be fate working its beautiful magic.  I met the girl of my dreams who was originally from the Bay Area and a former Googler, now med student.  She got matched at Stanford for her residency so I knew that Silicon Valley was in my immediate future and I spent the latter months of my funemployment learning web development (the MEAN stack).  I always enjoyed coding and the instant gratification of seeing my code run in a browser brought within me a new level of interest I’d never felt when coding C++  or assembly language back in college.  I rented my house, said goodbye to the closest friends I think I’ll ever have and moved to the Bay Area.  Within the first few weeks of settling in, I found myself at a coding meetup where I met Catherine Kim, the spunky leader of the meetup who also was the product manager at an AI patent startup.  Quite honestly,  I hadn’t thought about patents as coding was in the forefront of my mind and I no intention of moving back into the word of patents unless the opportunity was special, but her passion and enthusiasm for the company, the team and the mission left me greatly intrigued.  Within a few weeks,  I met with the whole team and was blown away by the scope of their vision and with how far they had come in having AI interpret and search for patents, something I once considered to be a pipe-dream.  




And that brings me to life 2.0.  I come in humbled by the opportunity to join this incredible team as the machine learning product manager.  In this role,  I’ll use everything I’ve learned from my days as an Examiner to ensure that our AI analyses and searches for patents with a level of accuracy that matches and exceeds what we as humans are capable of.  I know first-hand the kind of results anyone who is analyzing a patent would look for and it’s with that perspective, that I’ll work with our amazing data scientists to bring our AI to patent filers.  With this in mind,  I can’t help but be in awe of what our product is doing and will do for the patent world as a whole.  Imagine the trillions of man hours we can save and the billions of dollars returned to higher quality IP practices. Imagine setting the standard for a comprehensive analysis with a level of understanding of a human, but without the inherent constraints embedded within our production hour mentality.  We at ClearAccessIP can and this mission is why I am here.