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Anyone considering a career as a patent attorney?

  1. May 10, 2012 #41
    Would you say a BS in physics is a good and/or common background to have before pursuing patent law?

    I've heard concerns about there being more lawyers than there are jobs. There seems to be competition for jobs and I've heard some people recommend not pursuing law school unless you're admitted to one that's very prestigious. Would you say these concerns are somewhat alleviated or inapplicable to patent law since you apparently need a scientific background to get into the field?
  2. May 10, 2012 #42

    George Jones

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    I know someone who got an MS in physics, then got a law degree, and then became a patent lawyer. Also, I have recently been reading

    http://ajp.aapt.org/resource/1/ajpias/v70/i3/p266_s1 [Broken],

    and it seems that when the paper was written, one of the authors was a student, and that this author is now a patent lawyer.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  3. May 16, 2012 #43
    I have a BS in ChemE and 2 years of work experience, and I am seriously considering going to law school for patent law. Is my technical background going to hold me back from getting desirable jobs?

    It seems ME and EE are the preferred engineering majors for patent law. And for something like ChemE, a MS/PHD is somewhat of a requirement.
  4. May 21, 2012 #44
    I appreciate you taking time to answer questions in this thread. I've read through everything and most of my questions are answered. I'm trying to figure out if I would be suitable for a career in patent law. Either as an agent, or full-fledged patent attorney. Ideally, I'd be able to get one of those jobs where they pay for night law school.

    I am a mechanical engineer. I just completed a graduate degree in mechanical engineering (specializing in energy technology) and bachelors in mechanical eng. and applied math & statistics.

    However, I am lacking in the experience area. I have about a years experience, mainly in the MEP consulting and HVAC field.

    I'm trying to vett myself for this career. I especially like the idea of being on the forefront of new inventions and not pigeon holding yourself into one particular field or discipline. I think that's my main fear of being a regular engineer.

    My Question:
    1) Should I go ahead, study for, and take the patent bar exam before getting a job. Would it help me in my job search?
    2) What are my chances, with respect to my degrees and limited experience, as far getting a patent agent position sometime soon.
    3) Is there any correlation between the patent bar and LSAT scores? Getting into a decent law school for me would be highly dependent on LSAT, since I hear they don't really take into account graduate study.
  5. May 23, 2012 #45
    I did my BSc. in Industrial Engineering and I am currently pursuing a law degree. I was wondering if it was possible for me to be able to practice as a patent attorney when I am finished with law school as the Industrial engineering degree that I did contained about 75% of the courses that the mechanical engineering degree contained. Do you think it is possible? If I am not able to...what would you suggest that I do? Sould I do a masters in some sort of engineering field to enhance my chances after law school?
  6. May 29, 2012 #46
    Hi dear, Thanks a lot for this post. I am currently on the verge of completing my PhD in chemistry from an Indian university. Being an Indian national, does it qualify me to apply for patent bar exam.
    Another question is: Is there a requirement to have law degree to become patent attorney since this is a criteria in India.
  7. May 29, 2012 #47
    This has been a very interesting and useful thread. After 35 years working many aspect of several engineering fields, I thought it might be fun to take early retirement and get a law degree. Both patent and product liability look attractive.
  8. May 29, 2012 #48


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    Holy cow am I behind... Let me try to catch up on questions.

    It's great foundation-wise but employers get a tad hung up on looking for engineering degrees. It may be a tad harder to find a job but it's definitely doable.

    I have an industrial engineering background. I've worked on patents for cheese vats, truck covers, low sodium salt-substitutes, methods of making chains, casino games, snow plows, feed bin monitors, quick-connect connectors, self-tightening tire chains...

    Unfortunately, there are tons of people graduating from law school with a patent focus who are patent bar eligible. It's difficult to find a job right now in any sort of law (but hardly impossible).

    If you want to do mechanical engineering-type patent applications, which I'm sure you could handle, you're probably fine but it will be difficult to get work in the chemical field without an advanced chem degree.

    I am an IE major. I believe was harder for me to find a job with an IE background but, clearly, not impossible. ME is more preferred, but not essential. I would not get an advanced IE degree. If you cannot find a job out of law school, go to the patent office and work as an examiner for a year or two. That will give you some great training and experience.

    I am 99% certain there is no requirement that you be a US national to take the US Patent Bar Exam. You need a law degree to become a "patent attorney" in the US but a law degree is NOT required to become a "patent agent."
    Last edited by a moderator: May 29, 2012
  9. May 29, 2012 #49


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    1) Should I go ahead, study for, and take the patent bar exam before getting a job. Would it help me in my job search? Absolutely, this is a common strategy. Having your patent bar registration before job seeking shows you are knowledgeable, serious and ready to work.
    2) What are my chances, with respect to my degrees and limited experience, as far getting a patent agent position sometime soon. Impossible to speculate. It's dependent on so many factors such as 1) where you're located; 2) your resume; 3) your personality; 4) networking and commitment to job searching, etc.
    3) Is there any correlation between the patent bar and LSAT scores? Getting into a decent law school for me would be highly dependent on LSAT, since I hear they don't really take into account graduate study I don't expect there is any correlation. Those are two separate tests that test very different things in different ways. Plus, the patent bar is merely pass/fail.
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  10. May 29, 2012 #50
    How well would a computer engineering or computer science degree work for a patent attorney? Would electrical engineering be significantly better?
  11. May 29, 2012 #51


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    CE is preferred over CS (again, employers have some sort of obsession with engineers). EE is slightly better than CE and CS because there is simply a greater number of EE focused patent applications to be written. CE might be less and less desired in the future depending on how the In re Bilski case gets interpreted by the courts and Patent Office. It's complicated, but due to this court decision, it's harder to patent software and business methods. Do a little research on the case if you're curious. There's been a lot written about it because it's a big deal.
  12. May 30, 2012 #52
    I cant thank you enough for starting this great conversation.I do need some advice. I have a BS in Physics and Master in EE with 4 years of working in industry. I have been staying home for the past 3 years after I got laid off, but I enjoyed raising my kids. Now, I think it is time to go back to work. Since working as Engr in high tech, consumed alot of hours of my everyday life,I was thinking becoming teacher.... mostly because of summer vacation time ( to be honest ), but it is not going to be my favorite job. Then I was pointed toward becoming a patent law agent, and I am digging in to learn if it is doable. I enjoyed this conversation alot, but I need to ask you:
    How flexible can the work hours of an agent can be?
    Can one work hourly? or per patent?
    Also, do you recommend taking class to be prepared for the test or just reading books? if books, any preference?
    I appreciate your time, thanks
  13. May 30, 2012 #53


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    How flexible can the work hours of an agent can be? It depends entirely on where you work. Are you working for a firm or for yourself as a patent agent/consultant? There is no answer to this question because it's entirely situation specific and there are many potential work scenarios.
    Can one work hourly? or per patent? Same answer as the above question.
    Also, do you recommend taking class to be prepared for the test or just reading books? if books, any preference? There are many classes offered and they are quite expensive. I'm sure there are also many books. Perhaps go to a bookstore and check some out before purchasing. Practice questions are very important so make that part of your studying. Of course, the MPEP is free and available online. The MPEP is what the test is on so it makes sense to read that but it's incredibly long and not easy to study in itself (especially until you are more familiar with the statutes). It's hard for me to give advice on this question because I studied for the exam by taking patent law classes in school and I also helped create a patent bar review course for my school (which never got off the ground). Those activities were a great way for me to learn the material but it's hard to know what else might work well.
  14. May 30, 2012 #54
    Thank you for your reply :) the whole scenario looks pretty promising to me. I should start studying for the test and see what will happen after that.
    Once again, you are a great help. Thanks
  15. Jun 18, 2012 #55
    Hello all,

    this post is informative. I just started my job as patent analyst. Despite job is slightly difficult, the pay is quite is low here in India.
  16. Jun 27, 2012 #56
    Hi! Like others have said, thank you for all your information you're sharing. I am currently a student about to finish my undergrad degree in a major that would not qualify to take the patent bar exam. My plan is to qualify under category B, where you can qualify by proving you have a technical background by having college credit in certain classes. My choice was to have 8 sequential hours in chemistry and an additional 24 in some form of biology. I also plan on taking organic chemistry because it was recommended by someone who is familiar with patent agent work.

    My question is that will not having a technical degree cause me to have a harder time with the work patent agents do?

    And will not having a technical degree also make me look less desirable to potential employers?

    Thanks for any advice you have to offer.
  17. Jun 27, 2012 #57


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    First of all, I'd like to reemphasize that for all career guidance that I give, I'm speaking in broad generalities. Having one specific major will not guarantee you a job, nor will not having a certain major deny you the opportunity to work (assuming it at least qualifies you to take the patent bar). That said, not having a category A degree can negatively affect how employers view your resume. Often times it may not make practical sense but it's my opinion that hiring partners and HR personell often stick to what they've been told to hire (a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, etc.). If you don't have the degree on the job posting, sometimes your resume will be discarded even though you have taken many overlapping classes. This reality is just an obstacle though and can be overcome with hard work, motivation, patience and networking.

    Please do read what I've said in prior posts regarding the life and chemical sciences and the typical requirement that a patent agent have an advanced degree and, preferably, industry experience.
  18. Jun 28, 2012 #58
    My major is graphic communications. It deals with a lot of the technical aspects of things in the printing industry, such as the composition of inks, paper, substrates, printing presses, ect. My plan was to become a patent agent with a special interest in these type things. I am currently on an internship at a printing industry in the research and development lab. I am getting to help some and watch with a new "thing" that the industry will patent once they perfect. Would this make me appear as a desirable employee?

    I also know someone who is a patent lawyer and what he does makes me want to be a patent lawyer. He started with an undergrad degree in econ, went to law school, and practiced medical malpractice law. He was unhappy with this and went back to school for 30 credit hours in chemistry to take the patent bar. He owns his own firm now and does international patents. Does this sound like an "unusual" situation based on your experience and would be unlikely to work out for me?

    I know these are very broad questions and you may not be able to answer them, but I am very grateful for any advice. I'm trying to decide if this is what I want to pursue and only have a little bit to make my decision.
  19. Jun 28, 2012 #59


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    @Kohleigh You would not be a typical patent lawyer or have taken a typical path. This should only dissuade you, however, if you are not completely committed to working in patent law. Backgrounds such as yours can make finding a job more difficult because you specialize in a niche market and will have to focus your job search in that niche market where there are, perhaps, fewer opportunities. You may find yourself having to work at the patent office for awhile or having to move for a job or, perhaps, not make as much of a salary as you would have hoped. You will likely find it more difficult to find a job but I'm a strong believer in the power of a "whatever it takes, I will make it happen" mentality.
  20. Jun 28, 2012 #60
    I cannot thank you enough for your advice. You have helped me know that I will be able to pursue this path and do so with more confidence. I realize it will take me more work and might be more difficult, but patent law is what I know I want to do now. So what ever it takes, I will make it happen.
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