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Author Topic: Patent Litigation  (Read 1164 times)

Bonkers, Jr.

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Patent Litigation
« on: July 21, 2005, 03:39:55 PM »
I have a strong interest in science (but no degree in it.) I am thinking of doing the science classes needed to eventually take the patent bar. Does being a patent attorney truly require the level of in-depth knowledge of science or engineering you'd get in a bachelor's degree? Or is that requirement more of a formality?

Any advice or personal stories appreciated...

eem

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Re: Patent Litigation
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2005, 05:19:27 PM »
For patent drafting/prosecution, yes.  In biotech, if you want a job, you pretty much need a Ph.D. too.  For engineering (not my field, so not as familiar with that) you seem to be able to get away with a bachelors, but having at least a masters would probably make you more marketable. 

For patent litigation, you do not really need to take the patent bar, so you don't *need* a science degree...I don't know how people do without one though.  You will probably find more info/get more responses posting on the forum at www.intelproplaw.com

Bored_3L

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Re: Patent Litigation
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2005, 05:44:29 PM »
First off you need to realize that patent law consists of two distinct areas: prosecution and litigation.  Patent prosecution is the actaul drafting of the patent and dealing with the PTO throughout the application process, while patent litigation is the actual infringement litigation involving existing patents.  The patent bar is only required if you want to prosecute patents with the PTO.  If you want to litigate, it is not needed.  Also, only people who have passed the patent bar are "patent attorneys" but this is only needed to prosecute so you can still be a patent litigator without being a "patent attorney."  

Whether or not you need the patent bar depends on what you want to do.  If you want to prosecute patents then you need the patent bar.  But having passed the patent bar will not automatically make you employable as a prosecutor.  The patent bar itself is only a rules and procedure test and firms hire prosecutors based on their techincal backgrounds and knoweldge.  Generally you need a bachelor's level degree at teh very least but advanced degrees are far more common in many areas.  Even if you took enough science credits to qualify for the test you would still have to demonstrate some serious levels of technical knowledge to be considered for a position.  

However if you want to do litigation then the need for a techincal background varies depending on the firm.  Most firms want all of their patent litigators to have technical backgrounds  but others may not be as stringent.  It all depends on the firm.  Having the patent bar could be an asset by demonstrating your interest in the material and allow you to sell yourself better.  But in most cases for entry level litigators firms would chose a technical degree over a non-techincal degree even with the patent bar.

The patent bar is a very hard and expensive test to both prepare for and take.  Before commiting time and money to the exam, and the requisite undergrad courses needed to even qualify for it, you need to decide what side of patent law interests you and do some research to see what kinds of qualifications are required by the firms you are interested in.  

Either way without a technical degree it will be very hard to find a job as a patent litigator, and impossible to find one as a prosecutor.

Lenny

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Re: Patent Litigation
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2005, 08:44:33 AM »
The corollary to Bored3L's post is that Intellectual Property Litigation and Patent Litigation are not one in the same.  I work in my firm's IP Lit practice group and was a government major.  I work on all sorts of IP cases, from copyright to trademark to trade dress to patent.  In most cases, you are suing or being sued under all of these theories, not just patent.  Though it is undeniable that a technical background is helpful in some of the hairier patent cases, and arguably necessary in biomedical patent cases, a technical background is not the only way to be an IP lawyer.  Most of the time, we just bring one of our patent prosecutors in to act as a consultant and teach us the details, but the litigation piece is the same as any other complex litigation case, though infinitely more interesting and lucrative in my opinion.

Bonkers, Jr.

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Re: Patent Litigation
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2005, 02:02:44 PM »
Thanks for the helpful info you guys... glad I asked!