The Attorney to the Idea Man - Patent Lawyers

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Patent Lawyers are responsible for understanding the rules of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Based on these laws for filing patents, attorneys prepare, file and prosecute patent applications for clients. Patent attorneys work on infringement cases and support their clients in the courtroom if a problem arises pertaining to the patent. In the professor's case there was a problem. Someone else filed to patent the idea before he filed. The filings were made very close to each other but the patent attorney needed to come up with evidence that the professor had the idea first. After comparing dates, the professor had a student who was taking notes in a class when the he had first lectured on the idea. The notes were dated two years prior to the Australian filing. The patent was awarded to the professor.

What are the requirements to become a Patent Lawyer? Educational qualifications include a four-year bachelor's degree in science or engineering and a law degree. Patent lawyers need to understand their client’s inventions and so employers or firms are often specific as to the background of the Attorney. Some firms need a patent attorney with even more specific background like medicine or pharmacy. Patent lawyers must be admitted to the bar in at least one U.S. state. There is also a special bar exam for Patent Lawyers which must be taken by the attorney to practice Patent Law. To qualify for the exam an attorney must have a bachelor’s degree in science or engineering.

Entry level salaries for Patent Attorneys (according to the salary wizard on salary.com) are from 56K to 99K and these salaries increase with experience. Junior patent associates earn salaries between $90K and $141K and the most experienced patent lawyers earn salaries ranging from $165K to $227K.

The competition for graduating attorneys is stiff but those looking to practice as a Patent Attorney might find less graduates vying for the jobs. This is because Patent Attorneys are often highly specific and the bar requires a background or an undergraduate degree in a scientific or engineering field.

As we review the job of Patent Attorney we can see it is a special field in law that requires knowledge beyond the law degree so the attorney can understand the client's product or idea to be patented. He may also have to represent the client in court if problems arise with patent infringement. Much time is spent filing and prosecuting patents as well as trademark prosecution, intellectual property portfolio management or patent litigation. Salaries of $100K and upward run inline with the experience and education required to meet the qualifications to be a Patent Attorney.

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