When the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announced it was switching to a new IT system, Chapter 245 (Trademark Society) wanted to ensure a smooth transition for both the agency and employees. After all, moving to the new software, called TM Exam, would be the most substantial change in more than a decade to the technology that NTEU-represented trademark examining attorneys use on a daily basis.
Chapter President Jay Besch agreed to hold off on formal bargaining over the change in order to work in partnership with the agency to implement the system. The result is an agreement that protects employees and also throws in some creative incentives for early users of the new system.
The agreement ensures employees have ample time for training and for acclimating to the new technology. It also preserves NTEU’s right to engage in future bargaining over any new issues that may arise from implementing TM Exam.
The chapter came up with creative incentive programs for fast adapters to the new system. Along with monetary awards, employees who reach certain milestones can earn incentives ranging from recognition on the TM page to happy hour with the Deputy Commissioner of Trademark Operations.
For the chapter, the incentives aren’t just about reaching monthly goals. They provide the opportunity for office-wide recognition, which employees have told the chapter is meaningful for them.
Since the agreement was signed in June, at least 55 percent of work office-wide is being performed in the new system. PTO has set a Dec. 1 deadline for when all examining attorneys must use TM Exam.