Patent lawyers are a unique breed of professionals, combining the skills of a lawyer and an engineer, as well as those of an advisor and a psychologist. Although our work with the outside world may be seen as dull and nerdy, our daily tasks and responsibilities are actually quite varied and interesting. A patent is only valid in the country it is applied for, so if you want global coverage, you must apply for patents in multiple countries. A patent attorney is someone who has a specialized qualification to help obtain patents and act on all matters related to patent law. While lawyers and attorneys act before the courts, patent lawyers act before patent offices, such as the European Patent Office (EPO).
The profession is a protected title and only people who have passed all the exams can be called patent lawyers. Most UK patent lawyers are doubly qualified as UK patent attorneys and European patent lawyers. If you want to use your engineering or science degree but don't want to be an engineer or scientist, a career as a patent attorney could be for you. As an apprentice, you'll work as part of a team and your work will be supervised by a qualified patent attorney. Once you're qualified, however, you'll need less supervision and there'll be plenty of independent work.
The EPO is headquartered in Munich and The Hague, so most European patent lawyers will need to travel to attend the hearings. An internal meeting could be about business development, for example, or it could be to discuss a recent change in patent legislation with my colleagues. I work for a private practice firm, but you could also work as an in-house patent attorney for an organization. These works focus more on the enforcement of intellectual property, while patent attorneys focus on establishing intellectual property. For me, attending these hearings and successfully obtaining a patent or defending or opposing a patent is one of the best parts of the job.
Patent lawyers usually work primarily on patents, legal rights that are granted to the owner of an invention. Some patent lawyers also have dual qualifications as trademark lawyers, so they will also work on trademarks. The job also involves working to tight deadlines because patent offices set deadlines and it's important to meet them. In conclusion, being a patent lawyer is far from boring! It's an exciting profession that combines legal knowledge with engineering skills and requires you to stay up-to-date with changes in legislation. It's also a great way to use your engineering or science degree without having to become an engineer or scientist.