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USPTO Commissioner for Patents Names Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal Finalist

Monday, May 06, 2013

Finalists eligible for eight Service to America Medals, including Federal Employee of the Year

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) Commissioner for Patents Margaret A. Focarino was named today a Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal finalist by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Commissioner Focarino is among 31 finalists to be honored in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, May 7, as part of Public Service Recognition Week for her important role in spurring the economy and job growth through strengthening the USPTO’s patent operations.

“The Service to America Medal finalists remind us all about the true value and spirit of public servants,” said Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO. “Too often we only appreciate our government workforce in times of emergency or when services are no longer available to us. The medals shine a spotlight on the important work they do each and every day.”

“It is an honor to be recognized, along with so many incredible civil servants, as a finalist for the Service to America Medal,” said Commissioner for Patents Margaret A. Focarino. “I look forward to continuing my service at the USPTO by helping America’s inventors, small businesses and entrepreneurs get the capital they need to grow and create jobs through stronger intellectual property (IP) protection.”

In the last several years, a team at the USPTO led by Focarino implemented a series of bold reforms and new business practices. Working with labor and the backing of agency leadership, she negotiated and implemented the first significant changes to the patent examiner work processes in 30 years, which included giving examiners more time and flexibility to handle cases. She also created new incentives for examiners to reach their goals; developed new performance requirements for examiners and managers; increased employee training and leadership development opportunities; oversaw a major hiring initiative; and developed a comprehensive set of metrics to monitor patent quality.

Focarino was appointed as Commissioner for Patents in January 2012. She previously served as Deputy Commissioner for Patents, providing administrative oversight to nine Patent Technology Centers and coordinating the activities of patent application examination and reissuing. Commissioner Focarino began her career at the USPTO in 1977 as a Patent Examiner. She became a Supervisory Patent Examiner in 1989 and was promoted to the Senior Executive Service in 1997. In 1993, she received the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award for her work as a Supervisory Patent Examiner, and in 2010, received the Department of Commerce Silver Medal for leading a joint union and management task force that developed and implemented the first significant changes to the patent examiner work credit system in more than 30 years.

The Service to America Medal recipients will be chosen by a committee that includes leaders from government, academia, the private sector, the media and the philanthropic community. Renamed the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals in 2010 to commemorate the organization’s founder, the program has honored more than 400 outstanding federal employees since its inception in 2002. More information about the program and the 2013 finalists’ achievements is available at

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