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Patent Attorney

Education and Training: Bachelor’s degree in science or engineering, juris doctor degree from an accredited law school, and patent bar license
Average Salary: $166,000 per year
Job Outlook: Good

Patent attorneys, commonly referred to as patent lawyers, represent clients to secure patents and act in regard to any matter related to the patent law. They are responsible for preparing, filing, and prosecuting patent applications. They might even be required to provide patentability opinions to clients.
Patent attorneys need to have a technical background to understand the science or technology underlying the invention. Patent attorneys are entitled to practice law and can provide legal services when practicing within their areas of jurisdiction. They might also be required to advise clients on licensing and infringement matters.
Patent lawyers need to ensure the authenticity of the invention and understand the manner in which it is new or unique. While drafting the patent application, patent lawyers need to anticipate the questions or objections that might be raised by the patent examiners. The patent lawyers need to prepare responses for the patent examiner’s objections. They might be required to negotiate the terms of the patent with the examiner. Patent lawyers can represent their clients in legal proceedings. Patent lawyers are required to prepare the license documents detailing the allowed uses and prohibitions of the patented invention. They also represent patent holders in situations where patent rights are infringed and seek monetary damages, if required.

Education and Training Requirements

Patent attorneys need to have a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. They also need to have a juris doctor degree from an accredited law school and should be admitted to a state bar. To register as a patent attorney, they are required to pass the patent bar examination conducted by the USPTO. The patent bar examination tests their knowledge of patent law, procedures, and policies.
Patent attorneys need to have adequate scientific and technical education to understand the client’s invention so as to file a patent or defend it.

Getting the Job

Patent attorneys need to be highly responsible and detail-oriented. They also need to have a high-level of creativity and reasoning ability. They must be able to think quickly and be able to justify their stand till the end of the argument. Patent lawyers need to be excellent communicators, with good oral and written skills.
They must have a knack for meeting deadlines which are often specified by the patent office. Patent attorneys need to have a thorough understanding of the scientific areas they represent in order to put forward their arguments in a convincing manner. They might face situations wherein they are required to negotiate with the other party. Therefore they must be excellent negotiators.
Patent attorneys should also be good in handling high-pressure situations. They must be able to maintain their calm in demanding circumstances.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

The job prospects for patent lawyers are quite good. With the development in science and technology and the focus of organizations on innovation, more and more inventions will happen. This will lead to a growth in employment opportunities for patent attorneys.
Patent attorneys, passing out from reputed schools and having specialization in certain areas, are likely to get better job opportunities. Competition for the job of a patent attorney will be keen owing to a growing number of law students opting for this career.
The job of a patent attorney is an intellectually satisfying career option.

Working Conditions and Environment

Patent attorneys often work as in-house counsels and tend to specialize in the organization’s technology. While working for the Federal government, patent attorneys are employed with the U.S Patent and Trademark office and are involved with devising public policies for patents. Research organizations also employ patent lawyers.
Patent lawyers need to travel to attend meetings and to appear before courts. They often need to work during weekends and non-office hours to meet clients or prepare briefs. The work can be quite stressful as they are subjected to immense pressure from the clients to succeed.

Salary and Benefits

As per the American Intellectual Property Law association, the annual median salary for patent attorneys was approximately $166,000. This figure varies depending on the patent attorney’s experience, knowledge of the scientific discipline, and expertise in handling similar cases. Salaried patent attorneys get annual bonuses, paid vacations, and health insurance.

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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