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Overview of patent and intellectual property law


Replies to: Overview of patent and intellectual property law

  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    BSME: Becoming a patent examiner is a viable alternative to working as a technical advisor. The USPTO is looking to hire more examiners over the next couple of years, and your engineering experience will give you points in setting your ranking among applicants for an examiner's position.

    Take the USPTO exam whenever you wish, but if you take it before you are working in the patent field in any capacity, my opinion is that you should take a review course having a track record for passing the exam. There are several in the country, including those given by the Practicing Law Institute (PLI) and the Patent Resources Group (PRG). It's possible to pass the exam without having taken such a course, and I know at least one person who has done that, but your understanding of the material and therfore your chances of passing the exam on the first, or at least the second, try, would be enhanced by a review course.

    As far as moving to a law firm, or even to a corporation, one year as a patent examiner is of little value*. They will usually want 2-4 years of such experience; otherwise you will be considered in the same category of someone who has little or no experience. Also, I wouldn't say that law firms necessarily "love" people with a bit of patent office experience. When you move to a law firm, you ought to have a good knowledge of the examining process, but you will have to start from the beginning in learning how to draft patent applications and you may have to unlearn some ideas about standards of patentability.

    I have no input on the financial aspects of law school, including whether or not you should consider switiching to the day program after the first year. However, rememeber that you probably will only be able to save at most a semester that way since at the end of the first year in evening school you will be behind the first-year day students in terms of credit hours. And going to day school overall will only save you about a year, not two or three.

    But first, you should decide whether you are ready to give up actual engineering for a desk job in which you will be writing about engineering inventions but not carrying out any engineering. Somne people are eager to make that change; others not so eager.
    * opinion[/b/]
  • baller4lyfeballer4lyfe Registered User Posts: 1,214 Senior Member
    now, yo tengo una pregunta para usted. (I have a question for you). basically, I heard that if you want to be a patent lawyer, you have to either have a technical degree, or pass an exam that tests your knowledge of the sciences. secondly, I remember reading that if you want to study patent law in law school, but have an undergraduate degree in the social sciences, you can still easily study patent law without having a technical degree. but if you would want to practice, you would be an Intellectual Property lawyer, rather than a Patent lawyer.

    So far so good?

    and is the "patent law" studied in law school the same for everyone regardless of your background, or slightly, or even drastically different, depending on if you are interested in becoming a patent lawyer/IP lawyer?
  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    Dear Baller:

    1. Please read my initial post for answers to your first question. 2. Law school courses are the samne for all students. However, some schools only offer basic survey courses in IP topics while a few others offer more detailed courses in those topics.
  • LosLos Registered User Posts: 124 Junior Member
    I met an ip lawyer who said you can get a 40hr workweek if you don't go for the high-paying jobs in NYC. The starting salary at this lawyer's Florida office is 100k. Is this salary/hours typical for non-big city firms?
  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    Sorry to be late replying but I have been out of town.

    Starting salaries in locations other than major US cities (Washington, NY, Chicago, LA, SF, Houston,for example) will be less than in those cities and starting salaries in smaller firms will be less than those in larger firms. In general, however, most IP attorneys work more than 40 hours per week. I would say at least 45-50 hours is more common. How much more than 40 will depend on the particular employer.
  • DocTDocT Registered User Posts: 7,279 Senior Member
    I once thought of supplementing my education with a degree in patent law. I have a Ph.D. in physics. However when I started reading the patents associated with my inventions and the junk the lawyers put in to cover all kinds of absurdities, I couldn't stand it! I couldn't read more than 1/2 a page at a time. It really takes a particular kind of person to write a patent with all the claims.
  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    DocT: Flattery will get you nowhere with me. But I agree that some patents contain a lot of garbage. On the other hand, what may seem like junk to you is often included to meet the requirements of patent law, which are very different from those of a peer-reviewed publication.
  • lkf725lkf725 Registered User Posts: 4,781 Senior Member
    I have a few questions that have popped up, dadofsam...I hope you are still reading here!

    (1) Does the bar pass rate indicate anything about the quality of the school, and is it a nearly perfect correlation?

    (2) Do patent attorneys typically put in the brutal 60 to 80 hour work weeks?

    (3) Son now plans to get his MS in engineering immediately after undergrad. Will this make him more marketable to a patent department/firm down the road? Do they care about actual work experience in the engineering field?

    (4) Will having the MS make him more or less attractive to law schools?

    Thank you!
  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member

    1. Yes, just about absolutely. One should attend a law school with as good a pass rate as one can. However,, since "quality" isn't readily quantifiable, the correlation can't be said to be near-perfect. But it's a pretty good correlation.

    2. Please see my previous post on this question.

    3. In most engineering fields a bachelor's degree is sufficient to carry on patent work - unless the work is in a very sophisticated technology. In general, a law student with a master's degree and/or work experience will get more consideration than one with a bachelor's degree or no experience. Employers, both law firms and corporations, usually will prefer the candidatde with the most qualifications over one having the minimum. Law school grades and class standing are important, so is participation in a law review or otehr journal or on a moot court team in competition. These all amount to extra efforts and, in some cases, higher-level scholastic work. An advanced technical degree or work experience, however, can offset lack of some of these.

    I always tell my son that, like it or not, competition is heavy for the best jobs, and having only the minimum qualifications, even though they may meet announced requirements for a given position, is not a recommended strategy.

    4. Sorry, I am not informed on law school admissions.
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    Hi DOS,

    The first of three links in post #1 on this thread seems to have expired. Any chance you know where I can look for an equivalent?
  • lkf725lkf725 Registered User Posts: 4,781 Senior Member
    Thanks so much dadofsam! I appreciate your knowledgable advice. :)
  • dadofsamdadofsam Registered User Posts: 1,635 Senior Member
    The PTO has reconfigured its website. Information on qualifying to take the examination is now found at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/olia/oed/grb.pdf
  • bluedevilmikebluedevilmike Registered User Posts: 11,964 Senior Member
    Thanks for all your help. It's much appreciated.
  • Saxonthebeach6Saxonthebeach6 Registered User Posts: 524 Member

    I have heard time and time again that engineers make great IP lawyers. As an engineer currently pursuing law school, could you give me some insight as to why a background in engineering is beneficial to becoming an IP lawyer?
  • AMom2AMom2 Registered User Posts: 676 Junior Member
    My husband applied for a patent (through an attorney) 3-4 years ago and has not received an answer from the patent office.

    Also, oddly, my son's Science Fair project has shown up a very recent issue of a magazine. He has never applied for a patent for it, because it is very expensive. Do you have any suggestions for students who do engineering projects for Science Fairs?

    Would it be costly to apply for a patent for a protein he has researched?
This discussion has been closed.