What Do Patent Lawyers Do?
If you're thinking about pursuing a career in law, you're probably curious about what Patent Lawyers do. Patent Lawyers' main responsibilities are to conduct patent litigation and handle copyright and trademark infringement cases. Patent Lawyers must be licensed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and becoming a Patent Lawyer requires a background in technology or the sciences as well as a J.D. degree. Schools offering Juris Doctor degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Job Duties of a Patent Lawyer
A Patent Lawyer, also called a patent attorney or intellectual property lawyer, represents individuals seeking to obtain a patent (a set of exclusive rights awarded to an inventor). Patent Lawyers write and prosecute patent applications, offer counsel to patent-seekers and handle patent infringement cases, according to the American Bar Association (ABA).
Patent Lawyers must have an in-depth understanding of technology in order to successfully press their cases, and they must keep up with the latest scientific developments. The ABA reports that intellectual property lawyers find their jobs highly rewarding because of the opportunities to learn about the latest technologies, work with inventors and start-ups and tackle challenges in this ever-changing legal field.
Becoming a Patent Lawyer
The first step to becoming a Patent Lawyer is to earn a bachelor's degree in a scientific field approved by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). In order to demonstrate technical expertise, applicants must hold a B.S. degree in Engineering, Chemistry, Biology or a related field. Individuals who have an undergraduate degree in another field or extensive work experience but no degree may still apply to take the Patent Bar Exam, but they will face a more complex application process.
After receiving a bachelor's degree, the next step in becoming a Patent Lawyer is to complete a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree at an accredited law school. After graduating, one must complete the application process outlined by the USPTO. Once the application is accepted, the aspiring Patent Lawyer must pass the Patent Bar Exam in order to become a registered patent attorney. People who possess the necessary scientific qualifications and pass the exam but do not hold a J.D. degree may still work in the same capacity, but are called patent agents.
Earning Potential for a Patent Lawyer
Annual income for a Patent Lawyer will vary depending on experience. Patent attorneys with 1-4 years of experience make a median annual salary of around $100,000, according to Payscale.com. Those with 5-9 years of experience earn a median annual salary of around $160,000.
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