Is Patent Law Easy? A Comprehensive Guide

Patent law is a complex and highly specialized field of law that requires a great deal of technical knowledge and expertise. On the one hand, the profession requires a technical degree and the patent ban must be approved in order to practice. The exam is one of the most difficult in the country, with a pass rate of less than 50%. Many people have discovered that starting as a patent agent and moving up is the best path.

Patent law is an area that many people enter after obtaining a doctorate in biomedical sciences. Being at the forefront of research, patent agents write detailed descriptions of the new biotechnological inventions needed for patent applications and collaborate with patent offices during the review process known as patent processing. There are also positions available as patent examiners that examine these patent applications, and it is common for people to change jobs. A law firm is usually the best place to train as a patent agent, but biotechnology companies and technology transfer offices may offer an alternative route. While earning a law degree is not essential after a doctorate, it is recommended and all patent agents must pass rigorous qualification exams. Patent law is the branch of intellectual property law that deals with new inventions.

Traditional patents protect tangible scientific inventions, such as circuit boards, car engines, heating coils or zippers. However, over time, patents have been used to protect a wider variety of inventions, such as coding algorithms, business practices, and genetically modified organisms. Later on, patent law training provides opportunities for internal work in biotechnology companies, business development and mergers and acquisitions. Instead of focusing on technical skills alone, you should highlight the more generic skills of analysis, reasoning and creative thinking which are transferable and will allow you to market as a patent agent, trainee or technical advisor. The only important difference between examiners and agents is that examiners are not trained to write patent applications. I was offered a position as a patent agent intern in the intellectual property department of one of the largest general-purpose law firms in the country.

While there are many professional and social media sites where you can post your new resume and announce that you want to make the transition to intellectual property legislation online, nothing will replace the old in-person meeting. Law firms generally set an annual “billable” goal that every professional should strive to meet, and the objective depends on many factors such as their position within the firm, their size and their geographical location. In the United States and Canada, you certainly can't represent a client in court, not even in matters related to patents. The examiner shall review the application in the light of prior art and of that country's patent laws and regulations. The provisional patent application sets an earlier filing date and gives you 12 months to file a non-provisional application with the USPTO. Law firms, where your new career is likely to begin, are looking for people who are not only entrepreneurs but can work and manage projects independently.

Many jurisdictions do not allow patent agents other than lawyers to form legal partnerships with lawyers, regardless of the number of years they have been with the firm, the number of clients they have or the number of billable hours they have accumulated. For a knowledge-based company such as a biotechnology company, the most important and valuable intellectual property rights are patents, know-how and trade secrets. Although I don't have a comparable set of data on whether a certificate helps students obtain intellectual property works other than those related to patents, I think the same is true based on the experiences of former students. On the one hand filing with an attorney specializing in intellectual property can greatly facilitate the process but on the other hand attorneys' fees associated with filing patents can be overwhelming. A law firm is probably the best place to train to become a patent agent as you will gain valuable training and experience in intellectual property law through exposure to a wide variety of topics related to patent law. Please note that Rocket Lawyer is not a lawyer referral service, an accountant referral service, an accounting firm or a law firm; does not provide legal or tax advice or representation (except in certain jurisdictions) and is not intended to replace an attorney, accountant, accounting firm or law firm.

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