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Anyone considering a career as a patent attorney?

  1. Apr 10, 2013 #126

    how much travel is required? let's say you were an adviser/agent, hired as a phd tech person, at a firm like RG. and if you have to travel will they put you in first class.
  2. Apr 10, 2013 #127


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    I don't expect that agents travel very much. You may perhaps travel occasionally to conferences or to visit a client but I think that generally there would not be much travel involved. I definitely would not expect to be put in first class. I do not travel in first class because it's on the client's dollar and the flights are not terribly long. I've flown with attorneys in coach who have been put on client's private jets in the past. That was a real treat for him but he doesn't expect that treatment. It all depends on the client and the situation. Generally, it's all about keeping clients happy and often that means keeping the bills as low as possible.

    You will appreciate though that every job is different.
  3. Apr 11, 2013 #128
    I have a mixed background. I have an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in Computer Science. For the past 8 years I've been working for a Defense Contractor as a software engineer in the field of Digital Communications. Because my undergraduate degree was not in a science field, I took the Fundamentals of Engineering test, and applied to the USPTO under Category C (I believe I qualified under Category B, but Category C seemed like a lot less paperwork). I recently took and passed the USPTO Registration Exam. I'm at a crossroads in my current career. My current employer is encouraging me to enter a graduate program in EE, but for the past couple of years I've been contemplating going to law school and making a career switch into patent law. Do you think with my background I'd be a good candidate to make the career change? I'd appreciate any feedback. Thanks for your time. This thread has been very helpful.
  4. Apr 12, 2013 #129


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    I know in this day and age everyone would really like some certainty in making career choices. School is expensive and it's not always easy to change paths once you're down another. It's great you have a PTO registration and industry experience. A law degree would put you in the position to apply for patent attorney positions and also other pursue other types of law (if you graduate from law school and decide to do another type of law, it's not a big deal like with an undergrad degree). That said, it's very difficult to determine your career prospects. I think you could make it happen. As noted in other posts, a lot of a person's success is determined by factors such as work ethic, geographical location, networking and pure determination/desire. You could have no problem finding a job or it could be harder than you expect. I simply cannot speculate your success. I suggest you go with whatever plan you believe will make you happiest. Law school isn't something to pursue if you aren't entirely committed as there is no guarantee you will find a job quickly or make the big bucks.
  5. Apr 12, 2013 #130
    I appreciate your response. I realize that it's a rather subjective questions and not easy to answer without knowing the specifics of my situation. I've spoken with a number of people, and I am always looking to solicit more feedback. I have a friend that works in HR at a large law firm, and she's been trying to get me to consider a job as a Technical Specialist/Science Advisor for a number of years.

    Switching careers is a big decision, and for me many factors come into play. I like my current job. Sometimes it's really interesting, and sometimes I feel like I'm trapped in the movie Office Space. The people I work with are great. But in the end, I think I'd be happier doing something else. And I would like to build upon my prior education and experience, and not abandon it entirely for something else. Thanks again for your feedback and starting this thread. It has been really helpful.
  6. May 15, 2013 #131
    Hi there

    Hi there,

    I have finished my PhD in Organic-Chemistry six months ago and I had 3 yr pharmaceutical industrial experience. I could not focus on preparing for the patBar exam because of my present job and hoping to concentrate soon. I have a simple and straight forward question here, May I know exactly what is the job market for patent agents with the background I have after finishing the patBar exam if everything goes well.

  7. May 15, 2013 #132


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    My guess is you would fare well as pharma patents will always be sought and this is a field where attorneys will often want the help of an agent who is an expert in the latest tech. That said, the economy kind of stinks and I suggest you check employment listings for such a position in your area and perhaps call a few patent attorneys who work in obtaining pharma patents and get their input. Because of your level of expertise, you may be in a position to create your own job opening through networking and making it known what you have to offer.
  8. May 21, 2013 #133
    How about a master's degree in theoretical physics, and bachelor's degree in electrical engineering?
  9. Jun 18, 2013 #134
    I read through a few pages of this thread and decided to research the career further and I can say that it is something I could pursue once I finish my 4 year masters in physics.

    However, I have a few questions. I am from the UK and I know I would have to sit the UK and EU examinations to become a qualified patent attorney. But, if I wanted to do this in the USA I would then have to take further exams, right? Is this a viable route? Is it possible for a person from the UK to be a chartered patent attorney in the USA?

    Many thanks.
  10. Jun 18, 2013 #135


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    In the US, we have patent agents and patent attorneys. In order to become a patent attorney, you must have a law degree but to be a patent agent, you do not. If you intend to practice overseas and simply want to label yourself as qualified to prosecute patents before the USPTO, simply take the patent bar to become a "patent agent." Here are the requirements http://www.uspto.gov/ip/boards/oed/GRB_March_2012.pdf [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. Jun 28, 2013 #136
    I graduated Law school recently with a concentration in IP (in New York). I should be sworn in shortly as I passed my character and fitness test. I have always considered going into patent law but I don't have a science degree which would make me eligible (however, all my electives in college were science-based, and my degrees are in the math/science field, but do not qualify me for the patent bar) . I would need about 30 credits to get a second bachelors, so I was thinking of going back to school to try qualifying for patent law. I haven't decided which science degree I’ll go into yet, but leaning towards engineering (I’m assuming it is most helpful when dealing with patents?...I am very science minded, and have enjoyed all fields of science, but the multitude of choices available to me makes this a difficult decision)

    I read this forum and a lot of it was interesting, however most questions were asked from undergrads and not many from people that graduated from law school.

    Anyway, here are some of my questions, thanks in advance!!

    1. My initial plan is to look for a full time job in IP law with some law firm, and at the same time go to school to pursue science degree (should take about a year or so) . Then I can qualify for Patent bar, and once I pass, I will look into getting a better job as a patent attorney. Just wanted to know if this is a good route?

    2. When you first got a job as a patent attorney, assuming you had little or no experience, how was it getting started as an entry position? difficult? did you receive training?
  12. Jun 28, 2013 #137


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    1. Most firms will hire a "patent attorney" or a "trademark attorney." I would expect that a firm will have little interest in you pursuing other types of IP than what you're initially hired to do. My job is one exception and I know there are others out there but it is unusual. Therefore, I do not think it's realistic to expect your employer to encourage you to pursue a patent bar registration if you are hired to do trademarks/copyrights and they may not provide you with any patent work even if you do obtain your registration. You can certainly discuss this topic with potential employers but asking could also indicate you don't really want to do what you're interviewing for so it's a catch-22. I realize this doesn't make a lot of logical sense but it's just the way most firms seem to be set up. I have a lot of friends that have little variance in the type of work they do.

    2. Most firms hire new grads with the desire to mold them into the attorneys they want. Often mentors are assigned and, if not, you'll likely be reporting to an experienced partner who will give you tasks. These tasks will be preparing first drafts, essentially. Then, they will provide markups and feedback and that's how you learn. It took me about 3 years until I felt like I could do this job on my own.
  13. Jul 2, 2013 #138
    Science Undergrad. Online Schools

    1)I am chemistry major, hoping to become a patent agent (or work in the field) with my bachelors, or even be a lab teacher while I can go to law school at night. Is there a evening or online school , THAT IS REPUTABLE, that I can go to , so I can work during the day, for a science undergrad. ??? I have an associates in poli. sci. , and was able to do alot of that online through community college and then also took some state college courses online as well. While I've switched my major to a science b/c I would like to study patent law (and I don't want to do engineering, in case I would like to teach lab at colleges while in grad. school ), I realize most of the classes are during the day and it is hard for me to work at night b/c there are little to no office jobs and I have zero experience bartending and serving. Is there any good schools that are online or at night time for a science undergrad ? I live in NJ.

    2)Secondly, I'm in my sophomore year of chemistry. What would you suggest after or towards my senior year in preparation ? My ideal situation would be to go to law school at night and have a full time day job. While I understand I can take the upsto exam without a phD, I see that you wrote that you cannot get a job as a patent attorney without a phD. So what would you suggest I do upon graduation? Should I take the exam and try to get a job as a patent agent with hopes for law school at night? Or do you suggest I take a job with a chem. bachlors, possibly lab teacher or lab worker, and go to law school at night???

    ***My main problem is that I am 26 and still living at home. I have no family members or friends that went to any type of college, so I am doing this all on my own and really need guidance.)I went for the poli. sci. associates at 21 and got it 2 years later and took some time off to figure out what I wanted to do. Now, I took a few chem. classes and realized I'm very good with science and math, (Without taking it at all in HS) I was able to stay in the top 98% of my class. So, I would like to know what is the best suggested route without wasting anymore time and with hopes of after getting this bachelors, I can still continue on with school WHILE being able to make enough money to move out.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 3, 2013
  14. Jul 8, 2013 #139
    Hello, I am going to finish a BS in Physics very soon and I am confident that I would eventually want to go into patent law. I have spent 3 summers doing research in physics (I have worked primarily with superconductors and high powered lasers). My question is after I graduate would it be worth getting a masters in something (either physics or some kind of engineering) or should I go straight to law school or should I try to do a joint ME/JD program. Also, do you know if getting an ME would necessarily make you much more employable?
  15. Sep 16, 2013 #140
    I'm still high school and I'm trying to get a head start on what I want to become in the future and becoming a patent lawyer seems to spark new ideas in my mind. I have a couple of questions.
    1) Would I have to major in science to have a better on becoming a patent lawyer? If I do in your opinion which ones are the best?

    2)What would be the best school for me to look into?
    3)I really enjoy communicating with others face to face so how can I make sure I get to be in the courtroom but also do work outside the courtroom to make sure I am familiar with both sides of the work force?
    4) How much is the difficulty stage on becoming a patent lawyer?
    5) What type of degree do you suggest I should have to make sure my deal is sealed completely?
    Thank you for your time and have a good day(:
  16. Sep 17, 2013 #141


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    1) Electrical engineers are always highly sought but there are other options that would also be acceptable.
    2) This depends on too many factors to answer such as cost, major, personal preference, location...
    3) "Patent attorneys" don't frequently get into the the courtroom as the work they do is mostly transactional with the patent office. If you want to see more of the courtroom, you want to become a patent litigator.
    4) I'm not sure what you mean when you say "difficulty stage." That said, it is not easy to become a patent lawyer but it is hardly impossible.
    5) No degree or set of degrees will guarantee you a job. Getting a job requires work in itself and you can't expect a job to be handed to you. Focus on extra curricular activities, good grades, practical experience and internships, networking and interpersonal skills for interviewing.
  17. Sep 28, 2013 #142
    looking for internships


    I find this post extremely helpful! Thanks alot for sharing and providing us patent lawyer/examiner wanna-be's guidance.

    i have a couple questions regarding how to become a patent examiner.
    here's a summary of my background: im going to finish my undergraduate soon with a mechanical engineering degree, have some experience with research (had a couple internship with some university faculty members on their research projects), but no experience with legal matters.

    my questions are:
    1) do i have to take some classes to learn about public laws? (we only have political-science classes that are closest to laws and stuff)
    2) should i take classes in writing? i know writing is quite different in legal documents. if there's no such classes offered in my school, are there any websites you'd suggest for me to learn how to write these legal documents? (i tried to look for them online, but just wondering if you have a website that you really like personally)
    3) i want to do an internship program in Washington DC, and was searching for internship opportunities online. whenever i put in keyword as "patent examiner" or just "patent" the internship options came up are usually not what i am looking for; the closest ones are "legal assistant" but i am not looking to work in a law office since i am not studying law (or poli-sci in my case). thus, i am just wondering, what kind of internships (such as title of the job or keywords to search) would you suggest for undergrads to take in order to pursue a career in patent examiner (or lawyer)?
    4) following from previous question, was just wondering if i should intern at a law firm? since patent examiner/lawyer are somewhat related to laws alot
    5) is a master degree suggested/required?
    6) is the bar exam required? some website says it is, some says it is not. i am quite confused.

    sorry i have many questions. thank you for your patience and time!

    thank you very much!

    Last edited: Sep 28, 2013
  18. Sep 30, 2013 #143


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    1) No
    2) It's always good to be able to communicate effectively and write intelligently. Therefore, I recommend taking a few writing classes but it is not required.
    3) I do not believe the Patent Office offers internships. I worked as a legal assistant/secretary in the intellectual property department of a law firm when I was obtaining my undergrad degree. Some firms have summer programs for college students who want law firm experience. If you can not find such a position, do not worry. The Patent Office will train you to become an examiner. It would also be beneficial to gain ME industry experience through externships and internships while obtaining your undergrad degree.
    4) You certainly can if this interests you. It is not required, however.
    5) It will not hurt. It is probably not necessary to become a patent examiner for mechanical arts.
    6) There are two types of exams. There are state bar exams and the patent bar exam. Neither are required to work at the US Patent Office as a patent examiner. If you would like to work as a patent agent or patent attorney, that's a different question and the bar exam requirements for each are discussed in prior posts.

    Hope that helps.
  19. Oct 3, 2013 #144
    I am in US on a non working visa. I have a masters in biotechnology and a PhD in life sciences from India. I was looking into career in Patent atorney but considering that i dont have a work permit, do companies do visa application for the post of patent agent? If not what is the way that i can pursue a career in IPR? Any suggestions will be really appreciated.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2013
  20. Oct 9, 2013 #145


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    Sorry, I don't know.
  21. Oct 19, 2013 #146


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    I don't know if this has been covered, but this article seems relevant.

    Recent developments in US patent law
    http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/article/65/1/10.1063/PT.3.1397 [Broken]
    By Patrick M. Boucher, January 2012.

    "Legislation making the US the last country to abandon the first-to-invent patent system should have a significant effect on the way scientists approach patenting."

    Interesting bit of trivia from the article:
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  22. Nov 29, 2013 #147
    how do you use your science background for patent law? can you give me an example? why an arts degree can't become a patent lawyer?
  23. Nov 30, 2013 #148


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    When drafting patent applications, you are drafting technical disclosure regarding how the invention works. If you have a technical background, you presumably have a better understand of scientific concepts, terminology, etc. than someone without a technical degree. When responding to patent office action rejections, you need to be able to review the prior art cited and understand it so you can prepare a persuasive response illustrating the differences between the reference and your invention.

    That said, someone with an arts degree could obtain a patent bar registration if they prove to the patent office they have a strong technical understanding (either thru coursework taken or experience). It's a hard route, but is possible.
  24. Dec 2, 2013 #149

    I'm actually in a Chemistry PhD program, studying chemical biology (which is not always pharmaceutical in application, but encompasses all the concepts) and I'm wondering what my next step would be after attaining my doctorate if I were to go into patent law. I checked out that link to the USPTO, but there doesn't seem to be any offerings at the moment (though I do still have ~1.5 to 2 years to go in grad school) for chemists, and I'm not too crazy on relocating to the DC area (I'm originally from New England). From what I've read in this forum and elsewhere, it seems unwise to go straight to law school because firms can offer financial assistance for that after working for them. I guess the heart of my question is would I have to hunker down, study, and take the patent bar, then apply for patent agent positions, or are there opportunities for chemists besides perhaps the USPTO (if a job offering does pop up there)?
  25. Dec 5, 2013 #150


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    I wouldn't bet on finding a firm that will finance your law school education. The economy has changed quite a bit in the last decade. I know this used to be true but I have not heard of such a benefit being offered in the past decade.

    There are likely positions for patent agents having a phD in chemistry available but they may not be abundant or in the locations that interest you. Check job postings available online to get a better idea. Any patent job other than the Patent Office, however, would require you to pass the patent bar examination first before you would be hired.
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