Signatory authority is the authority, granted by the office, for an examiner to represent the office and to sign their own work. Partial Signatory Authority (PSA) allows for the signing of all non-final actions. Full Signatory Authority (FSA) allows for the signing of all actions and correspondence as defined in MPEP sections 1004 and 1005.
To achieve the position of Primary Examiner, an examiner must complete the Signatory Authority Review Program. Under this Program, the examiner’s work will be evaluated during two separate periods (Partial and Full) to determine if the examiner should be permanently delegated the authority to represent the Director and sign all actions independently including allowances.
Successful completion of this this step program enables an examiner to progress from GS-13 to GS-13 PSA and then from PSA to GS-14 FSA Primary Patent Examiner. Please note that successful completion of a Master’s Level Rating, which can only be done when an examiner has successfully passed the Partial Signatory Authority Review Program, allows an examiner to progress from GS-13 PSA to GS-14 PSA; thereby being promoted to GS-14. An examiner with a Master’s Level Rating is still not a primary patent examiner until the successful completion of the Full Signatory Authority Review Program and promotion to GS-14 FSA.
For Design Examiners the process to full signatory authority progresses slightly differently: design examiners start the partial signatory authority program six (6) months after receiving their promotion to GS-12. Examiners must be at 95% fully successful for the 11 weeks prior to starting the program. The PSA program lasts 13 consecutive bi-weeks and requires that the PSA candidate finish the program at fully successful and with no less 700 examining hours during the trial period. Upon successful completion of the PSA program Design Examiners will receive their promotion to GS-13 and be granted partial signatory authority.
The Full Signatory Authority program for Design Examiners begins automatically after 35 consecutive pay periods after promotion to GS-13, as long as examiner is performing at the fully successful level or higher. The FSA lasts 13 consecutive pay periods, and must include 700 examining hours. Successful completion of the FSA grants the examiner Full Signatory Authority and promotion to GS-14 Primary Examiner.