It is easier to become a patent lawyer that you think. All you need is the information on what you need like the training, educational qualifications, and experience. When you have fulfilled the requirements, you can go ahead to enjoy a career as a patent attorney.
What is a Patent?
A patent is that right which the government confers on an inventor to produce, sell or use a new and useful invention for at least 20 years from the date he/she applied for the patent. This Government document prohibits others from producing and selling the same invention. Many countries have the body that is in charge of issuing patents. For instance, if you want to get a U.S Patent, you will apply to the USPTO, United States patent and Trademark Office.
One thing to note however is that patents go with the territory. You must only apply for it in the country where you want the protection for your invention. For example, a patent you get in the U.S will only be effective within the country and nowhere else.
Who is a Patent Lawyer?
When you want to apply for patent rights, a Patent attorney is the one you need to be in charge of the processes. Apart from the application, he/she will also protect the inventor’s rights with the PTO or in the court. Sometimes, the court appearances can drag for a long time thereby making a patent lawyer to spend long hours working on it. So before embarking on your journey to acquire patent rights, employ the services of an expert in intellectual property law.
A Step By Step Guide To Becoming a Patent Attorney
1. Meet the General Requirements
One of the things you must do before you think of venturing into intellectual property law is to be a citizen, or legal resident. It is either you are a citizen of that country or you are legally residing in such a country. For instance, if you want to practice patent law in the U.S, you must have your citizenship or a legal resident. This proof of residence and work permits are some of the things you need before you can register with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You will present the copy of your work permit and every other document you submitted to or received from the department of labor and USCIS.
2. Obtain your Undergraduate Degree
To be admitted into law school, you must have a bachelor’s degree in the scientific field. You must be an expert in law, engineering, a scientific or technical field where you want to concentrate your practice. So before you start your BSc, make sure that the field relates to the patent law area you want to practice. Some of the relevant fields include:
- Computer science
- Food Technology
- Electronics Technology
- Marine Technology
- Molecular Biology
- General Chemistry
- Textile Technology
- Organic Chemistry
- Pharmacology etc.
3. Take the LSAT, Law School Admission Test and Apply
To gain admission into any law school, you must first write and pass the LSAT. This test comes in two sections, the essay questions, and the multiple-choice questions. The test aims to gauge the logical and analytic skills of the students.
As an applicant to a law school, you will use the Credential Assembly Service to apply. The CAS will prepare a report on your behalf and submit to the law school of your choice. The report which the service will send for you will include your scores in the LSAT test.
4. Graduate from Law school
To become a patent lawyer, you must spend three years in law school if you are a full-time student. However, if you enrolled as a part-timer, it will take longer than three years. Some of the courses you will study in law school include:
- Criminal law and procedures
- Civil law
- Legal writing and research
- Contract law
- Constitutional law and ethics.
However, as a law student who wants to pursue a career in patent law, you might need to add a degree or certificate program. The program will take you to courses in:
- Trade secrets
- Patents and trademarks
- Intellectual property.
Another thing you must do is to pass the patent bar exam. This patent bar exam is compulsory especially those in the U.S. Before you can go to the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, you must achieve a pass mark in the exam. Note, it is not compulsory to have a law degree before you write the exam. However, you must have your Bachelor’s degree in a relevant technical field.
Also, as a law student, you can take the patent bar while still in school. When you pass the exam, you will become a patent agent because you are not a lawyer. However, as a patent agent, you can initiate and apply for inventors who want to secure a patent on their inventions.
5. Pass your Bar Exam
After graduating from law school, the next step is to pass the state bar exam. Before you can practice as a patent lawyer in any state, you must pass this exam. The exam is usually in two sections; the essay and multiple choice questions and normally last for 2 to 3 days.
Also, you must also uphold a good moral character as the state requires while you are writing the bar exam. Avoid any conduct that may stand against the ethics of your profession.
6. Gain Some Experience
Almost every employer wants to hire someone with few years of experience. After passing your bar exam, it is advisable that you work for at least 2 years in a patent law firm. While working there, you will learn more about patent applications and trial practice.
You can also enhance your skills as a patent attorney by CLE courses by the American Bar Association or the state bar association.
Patent Lawyer Salary
According to the 2012-2015 reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a patent lawyer salary was $130.790. However, this salary may vary depending on the position which the patent attorney holds.
If you want to become a patent lawyer, you must meet the requirements mentioned above. There may be other requirements for career building or promotion, but these are the first steps you must take in your career.