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Anyone considering a career as a patent attorney?

  1. Dec 2, 2012 #101
    First of all thank you for taking the time over the past year to respond to all of these inquiries. After searching as I have you are really one of the only sources on the internet that has done this and I truly do appreciate your insight into this field.

    My name is Brandon Kelly and I am a Civil Engineering major from The University of Wisconsin. I have been looking for work for the past 2 years and have since decided to go to graduate school. I have applied for Business, Education, and Engineering Graduate Programs all over the country for the 2013-14 School Year. Today I was emailed by the president of a university to apply for their Masters of Science in Patent Law Program.

    This is the first time I've ever been aware that a field like this exists. I was considering going to get my MBA or Masters then ideally a JD later in life, but I think this would lead me in that direction ideally at a faster rate, utilize my experience, and also provide a decent living wage.

    I wanted to know if you knew of the job market in different cities, where I would be looking to relocate upon graduation. I am from (and currently living) in Cleveland, Ohio, and will be willing to relocate anywhere in the country. Ideally the bigger the city the better (and warmer). Also, I wanted to make sure that this masters program was sufficient. As it does prepare you as a patent agent to practice before the USPTO patent office.

    In addition I wanted to know that which courses you suggest in regards to attaining the desired knowledge required in the field:

    chemical sciences and engineering; electronics and electronic materials; bioscience, engineering and medicine; materials science and engineering materials; software, algorithms, and code; or mathematics and aerospace.

    I have seen several jobs that focus on Computer and Electrical Engineering knowledge, I just wanted to make sure this was standard across the field for the most part.

    Thank you again for all of your knowledge on this! It means a lot and I anxiously await your reply!

    Brandon Kelly
     
  2. Dec 3, 2012 #102

    berned_you

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    I am quite skeptical of the value of a "Masters of Science in Patent Law." To me, it sounds like a time consuming and expensive way to go. If you are concerned about prepping for the patent bar, there are many courses you can take in the couple of thousand dollar ranges that will last a few weeks. I would guess that this MS program would be much more expensive and time consuming. Employers will focus on two things: 1) your tech background and experience and 2) whether you passed the patent bar. A MS in Patent Law likely wont be understood by most employers because it's not typical or required. It wont hurt, but they likely wont put a lot of value in that degree. If you pass the patent bar, they presume you know the basics and can start working with a mentor. No amount of school work can 100% prepare you for work in the real world so this MS program wont be valued nearly as much, for example, as an internship. What I've just said should presumably make you really skeptical of the marketing in that school email.

    As discussed within this post, your scientific background is quite important. Chemical sciences and engineering will require a MS or phD; electronics and electronic materials are highly in demand; bioscience likely needs a phD, engineering and medicine (vague, sorry, not sure how to respond); materials science and engineering materials (not bad); software (very niche), algorithms and code (avoid); or mathematics (avoid) and aerospace (very niche).

    With respect to where to find jobs, it depends a bit. Odds are the larger the city, the larger the market. Obviously, if you know software you want to search near San Jose, if you focus on petroleum engineering you want to be near oil companies, etc., for medical devices you may want to search in the Twin Cities. If you're educated in the broad ME and EE sciences, for example, most of the US will be available to you for finding a job.

    Sorry that I threw this together so fast but I think it answers your questions. Gotta run.

    Lastly, GO BADGERS!
     
  3. Dec 3, 2012 #103
    Hi,
    I have finished my PhD in Organic chemistry and I am working as associate scientist in medicinal chemistry laboratory in an academic institute. Prior to this, i have worked in IPM (Intellectual Property Management) department analyzing patents and finding a different way to start the project in a pharmaceutical industry.

    Please advice me what should I be doing to become a patent agent. I had gone through this type forum a lot and understood that I need to pass bar exam. My question is how hard it is to pass the bar and after passing what is the procedure to find and apply for jobs (I think it is too early to ask-but i am curious).
     
  4. Dec 3, 2012 #104

    berned_you

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    The exam is not easy but neither is all the schooling you've been through. It will take work but I'm sure you can do it. Once you pass, you can simply apply for any job for a patent agent with a chemical/pharma background that you may find online or through networking/cold calls. There's no special process.
     
  5. Dec 3, 2012 #105
    Thank you very much for the reply..May i know how much would be the relative competition and how hard it is to get the job with PhD in organic/general chemistry and 3+years of pharmaceutical industrial experience with masters.
     
  6. Dec 3, 2012 #106
    I'm a graduate student in applied math. I've received my MS and am debating on continuing on for my PhD. How much would having the PhD over the MS help me if I were to become a patent lawyer? Also, I'd heard that the patent legal market was the one area that was still doing well in terms of hiring new lawyers, but a previous post you made seemed to disagree with that. Have things changed since that first post?
     
  7. Dec 9, 2012 #107

    Ach

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    If I was an electrical engineer, how much work experience would be recommended to reliably secure a job as a patent attorney? Would I be able to go law school immediately after getting my degree, or would it be better to get a couple years of experience in actual engineering first?
     
  8. Dec 9, 2012 #108

    Ach

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    Also, would advanced engineering degrees be significantly helpful?
     
  9. Dec 9, 2012 #109

    berned_you

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    @Ach - there is no formula. It's nice to have some experience but it's not required. What constitutes "some" is subjective. I went to law school right after obtaining my engineering degree. Advanced engineering degrees dont hurt but aren't a necessity.

    I know my response isn't terribly helpful but I can't tell you what to do in this case. Having more experience and more education is "better" but it's not required. At some point you have to do what you want to do. There is no formula for finding a job. Even if you have the perfect resume you may not quickly find a job if you are not personable or if you are not committed to finding a job. Being personable and committed to finding a job could overcome a less "shiny" resume. It all depends on a lot of factors and there are no guarantees for anything in this world.
     
  10. Dec 11, 2012 #110
    Hey, I am from India. I have done my B.tech in Electronics and Instrumentation. After working in management for a couple of years I am considering career in IP. The course that I plan on appearing for also provides CASRIP certificate from University of Washington.

    Can you tell me what is the relevance of this certificate and how it will be useful if I take US Patent Bar Examination in future?
     
  11. Dec 12, 2012 #111

    berned_you

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    See the attachment in post #7 of this thread for the requirements to sit for the patent bar.
     
  12. Dec 15, 2012 #112
    Hello, first off I want to say thanks a lot for posting all this information. It's hard to get so much information in one place like this. I recently graduated with a BS in Aerospace Engineering with a low GPA. I have 2 questions for you:


    1. I know you have mentioned the fact that mechanical engineering majors are attractive to patent firms. What about aerospace engineering majors? At my school mechanical and aero majors were on the same track until our senior years with most of the classes overlapping both majors.

    2. Assuming I were to pass the patent bar exam, what are the chances of me getting a job as a patent agent with no experience in my field? Do firms look at your GPA? And if so, how could I overcome this?

    Thanks again for your help!
     
  13. Dec 15, 2012 #113

    berned_you

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    1. The best way to get an idea is to check job postings for patent agents. If you see jobs for this background, you know there is good demand. If not, well...it could be difficult to find a job. I agree that you're probably qualified for working on mechanical patents but there is less of a demand for patent agents in the mechanical area because most mechanical patents are not very high tech. Again, look at job postings and get an idea of what firms are looking for and where they need expertise.

    2. Having no work experience and a low GPA will be two strikes against you. This can, potentially, be overcome with lots of networking, hard work and maybe a little luck. Most patent agents I meet are super educated and experienced in their tech fileds. As discussed previously, patent agents are most often needed where it's challenging for a patent attorney (who has a basic tech background) to understand the subject matter that's being patented because it's highly advanced and the technology field is advancing at a fast pace. To be a sought-after patent agent candidate, you need to know more about the technology than the attorneys you are working for.

    If you really want to work in the patent field, consider applying to be a patent examiner as discussed herein. It's much easier to find a job with the patent office and will, at the very least, provide you with excellent experience to beef up your resume.
     
  14. Jan 8, 2013 #114
    Must you pass the patent exam to practice as a IP attorney? Are patents and trademarks the only IP fields that require certification from the USPTO?
     
  15. Jan 9, 2013 #115

    berned_you

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    Passing the Patent Bar Exam is required to prosecute patents before the USPTO. There is no corresponding requirement for trademarks and copyrights.
     
  16. Jan 11, 2013 #116
    Dear friends

    I have a question here. Do we only have few dates to take the exams or we can take the exam anytime just like GRE. I know we have to get the clearance from USPTO to register for the exam, so once we get accepted from USPTO are we allowed to book the date for the test at any available date.

    Looking forward to here from someone.
     
  17. Jan 12, 2013 #117

    berned_you

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    Read this http://www.uspto.gov/ip/boards/oed/GRB_March_2012.pdf [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  18. Jan 16, 2013 #118
    Hi,

    I am a Biological Science PhD student, but due to some personal reason I wont be able to continue in the PhD program. I will eventually get a masters degree. I have experience (2.5yrs) in patent office in a big biologics company, India and the company trained me in US, EU as well as India patent laws. I also have a post-graduate diploma in patent law from National Law School, India. I want to know my chances of getting into a patent firm with my background. I am planning to write the patent bar exam soon and want to become a patent agent. My question is will a MS degree fetch me a job in a law firm or USPTO?? I know that I love patent work and really want to make a career in the intellectual property field. Your suggestions will help me decide my future goals.
     
  19. Jan 16, 2013 #119

    berned_you

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    I think your qualifications are strong. The Patent Office is almost always looking to hire examiners and I think your odds would be good with a firm too as a patent agent. That is not to say a job will be handed to you without much work but I think your chances of making a career in US patent law are rather good. If you want to apply to work at a firm you will need to pass the US Patent Bar examination but if you apply to work at the USPTO you will not and you will earn this qualification through working as an examiner. I note that I would emphasize your foreign patent knowledge and qualifications when applying for jobs at firms. I think that will help set you apart from other candidates.

    Hope that helps.
     
  20. Jan 16, 2013 #120
    Thank You!! Is there any study material that is freely available on web apart from MPEP to prepare for the patent bar exam? Do they also test on current patent litigations or case studies??
     
  21. Jan 16, 2013 #121

    berned_you

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    @Kamala - Not sure about free study aids. You'd have to search and see what you find.

    With respect to what's tested, see section IX of this document http://www.uspto.gov/ip/boards/oed/GRB_March_2012.pdf [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  22. Mar 20, 2013 #122
    hi @berned_you...thank you for starting this thread. I know I'm over a year late but would like some insight into Patent agent career and eventually IP law.
    I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Public Health. I'm interested in law school but not sure that I can take the instant pay cut. I'm thinking of taking the patent exam and applying for a patent agent job as a means of learning the industry and earning a decent salary for the first two years then probably moving into full time after. I have solid work experience in the IT industry and hoping that I can leverage this for opportunities in patent law work. Have you seen any interest/demand for those with my background in the patent industry? I've seent the requirements for the exam, and I know that I meet them, but will I be marketable enough?
     
  23. Mar 21, 2013 #123

    berned_you

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    The interest and demand can be seen in job postings. As mentioned in previous posts, CompSci isn't as in demand as the engineering sciences but perhaps there are quite a few job openings in Silicon Valley, for example, and the demand is simply localized in various parts of the country. Do some job post searching and see what employers are looking for in the ares in which you would like to work. Hope that helps!
     
  24. Mar 22, 2013 #124
    I was recently accepted to a MS in Patent Law Program at the University of Notre Dame. This program is designed to teach students how to draft patent applications, read patents, search for patents, and prepare them to take and pass the patent bar. Does this seem like it would be something beneficial if my goal is to work as a patent agent?

    My undergrad degree is Materials Science & Engineering. The only thing I am worried about is if I do this program will I be able to find a job as a patent agent? I'm not sure if MSE is a desired degree that is in demand.

    Thank you!
     
  25. Mar 23, 2013 #125

    berned_you

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    1. Yes it would have its benefits. Employers will focus heavily on your technical background though too. Just knowing about patents is one thing but knowing advanced technology is equally as important. That said, I'd ask yourself if you really want to invest in this patent agent program. To me, it seems to be an unnecessary expense (probably a huge expense). If you want training and experience, simply apply for a job as a patent examiner. I expect you would likely be hired and they will PAY YOU TO TRAIN YOU AND GAIN THE EXPERIENCE YOU DESIRE (not to mention give you government benefits/holidays). As mentioned in prior replies, you don't need any knowledge of patents to be hired as an examiner and they are hiring aggressively. The USPTO will put you through a thorough training program. Is working as a patent examiner for 2-3 years more valuable than a patent agent degree in an employers eyes? Yes.

    2. MSE should be a pretty good background for a patent agent as it includes a good deal of ME and ChemE knowledge (which isn't nearly as straightforward as ME). As mentioned in previous replies, a good background is helpful but no background will guarantee you a job as a patent agent. It will still take work to find opportunities in this economy. You may have to work at the Patent Office as an examiner for awhile or change cities to find a job that suits you. Patent agent practice is somewhat of a niche field. They aren't exactly rare, but aren't as common as patent attorneys or engineers.
     
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