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Patent Agent

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in science or engineering, patent bar license
Average Salary: $116,000 per year
Job Outlook: Very good

Patent agents prepare patent applications to be submitted to the U.S Patent office. Patent agents are registered with the U.S Patent office and are responsible for liaising between inventors and patent examiners.
A patent agent needs to have a strong technical background and is required to pass the patent bar examination. On passing the exam, the patent agent is eligible for filing applications and providing prosecution services to the clients.
A patent agent is primarily responsible for ensuring the smooth flow of the patent application. Patent agents are also required to investigate the authenticity of the inventions. They need to ensure the scientific and legal rationale for the client’s patent application. This is typically done to ensure the eligibility for the patent.
The patent agent creates the draft for the patent application in which the invention is described in detail and legal protection for the invention is claimed. The description is explained in a manner such that others can use the invention. The claims clearly list the specifications that will prevent others from making, using, or selling part of the invention, without permission. It is important to note that a patent agent cannot conduct patent litigation in the court.

Education and Training Requirements

Patent agents need to have a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. To represent clients before the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, patent agents need to pass the patent bar examination and get the patent bar license. Patent examiners with 5 years of continuous service can be registered as patent agents and are exempt from the examination. Some common professionals who often choose to become patent agents are: electrical engineers, mechanical engineers, software engineers, and environmental scientists.

Getting the Job

In addition to the educational requirements and the patent bar license, patent agents need to be detail-oriented and highly organized. They need to meet the deadlines set by the patent office. They need to be highly trained and well-versed in the scientific areas that they represent. They need to understand the application of patent laws to the scientific or technical areas they represent. They must have excellent oral and written communication skills. Patent agents need to work in close collaboration with patent examiners and therefore they need to be good negotiators.
Patent agents need to be thorough in their knowledge of intellectual property. They must also have excellent conflict resolution knowledge.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The job prospects for a patent agent are quite good. An increasing population and advancement in science and technology, and the rapid increase in inventions, will eventually lead to a growth in employment opportunities for patent agents. Growing awareness for the intellectual property law and the complexity involved in these cases will fuel the demand for patent agents.
Patent agents can move over to become patent attorneys. With experience, they can also start their own intellectual property law firms.
A career in patent law is very prestigious and rewarding. It involves intense intellectual challenges and provides numerous opportunities to interact with creative inventors.

Working Conditions and Environment

Patent agents primarily work in the private sector. They might work for intellectual property law firms, universities, corporations, or research organizations. Some of them work under the supervision of experienced patent attorneys.
Patent agents might be required to visit their clients’ homes. The work is stressful and there is immense pressure to succeed. The work hours can be irregular and working on weekends and holidays might be required in certain situations.

Salary and Benefits

As per the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the annual median salary for patent agents was approximately $116,000. This figure might vary depending on the patent agent’s experience, educational level, and knowledge of the scientific discipline. The type of law firm in which the patent agent is employed also plays an important role.

Where to Go for More Information

American Intellectual Property Law Association
241 18th St. South, Ste. 700
Arlington, VA 22202
(703) 415-0780

USPTO Headquarters
Madison Buildings (East & West)
600 Dulany St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
(571) 272-1000

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