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Author Topic: IP law undergrad preferences...  (Read 1364 times)

tvw74

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IP law undergrad preferences...
« on: March 22, 2010, 10:38:38 AM »
Im very interested in IP law, but did not major in engineering or a science. I have heard that most schools, or employers really, prefer IP JD's to have that kind of undergrad experience. Especially in this economy where even seemingly overqualified new JD's are having a difficult time getting good jobs, does it matter significantly what your undergrad major was/is when thinking about trying to pursue IP law?

RedShift

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2010, 10:56:34 AM »
Yes, it does matter (at least in some cases). I recently spoke to a patent lawyer about how to get into the field, and he gave me a packet of eligibility requirements in order to sit for the USPTO exam, which can be found here      http://jeremy.protas.org/scholarship/patent_bar_eligibility_requirements.pdf.

The most direct path is to have a Bachelor's degree in one of the approved science/engineering subjects, but there are a few other routes, all of which are outlined in the PDF file.
 
I don't know if these same requirements also apply to copyright and trademark law, but even if they don't, it's my understanding that patents are the meat of the industry anyway (someone else correct me here if I'm wrong.)

tvw74

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2010, 07:33:59 PM »
i wonder about art law though, which is a form of patent law

MorningStar

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2010, 08:38:45 PM »
Art law doesnt = patent law.

It's clearly not impossible to secure an IP gig without sweetening the deal with the possibility of patent practice (requiring a science background), BUT it's a ridiculously uphill battle.  Some people have done it, especially with in-house positions (e.g. fashion) or by fighting for IP work once you've already got your foot in the door at a firm.  It's going to suck though, I don't recommend it.  We recently had an IP panel of attorneys from all walks of practice.  Every single one of them had a science background, save one partner who was founder of a major IP related national law journal.

Thane Messinger

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2010, 02:25:41 AM »
Art law doesnt = patent law.

It's clearly not impossible to secure an IP gig without sweetening the deal with the possibility of patent practice (requiring a science background), BUT it's a ridiculously uphill battle.  Some people have done it, especially with in-house positions (e.g. fashion) or by fighting for IP work once you've already got your foot in the door at a firm.  It's going to suck though, I don't recommend it.  We recently had an IP panel of attorneys from all walks of practice.  Every single one of them had a science background, save one partner who was founder of a major IP related national law journal.


In addition, it's not just the IP lawyers have a science or engineering background, but a highly specific one, depending upon the practice.  So a chemical engineer might be quite successful if working in IP cases involving some form of, well, chemicals.  There are exceptions, of course, but in general the field of knowledge beyond law is quite elevated and specific, as that's the requirement for the actual practice of IP law.

More broadly, don't feel that you must choose a specific field, unless you have a developed interest in that field.  (For example, you were an assistant curator at a museum, have a master's in museum science, and wrote in the field of ownership rights in artwork stolen during Nazi Germany's control of southern Austria-Hungary.)

As odd as it seems, with exceptions almost as limited as the above, most legal employers could not care less what your prior background is.  They assume you are smart but inexperienced, and they will teach the finer points of the actual practice of law.  IP is special not (just) because it is specialized, but because it combines two distinct areas of expertise:  law and [whatever the technical skill, aqain quite specific (usually)].

I hope this helps,

Thane.

simonsays

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2010, 08:44:12 AM »
what the heck is art law?

nerfco

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2010, 11:43:43 PM »
what the heck is art law?

I don't know... but my school offers a seminar in it.

MorningStar

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2010, 10:04:53 PM »
Art law course description:
"Among topics that may be addressed are intellectual property rights related to art, censorship and First Amendment issues, art market issues, ownership issues, art transactions, forgery and authenticity issues, theft of art, cultural heritage and antiquities, tax and estate planning, and legal issues related to museums, galleries, and other arts institutions."

IPFreely

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2010, 12:32:10 PM »
When you write that you're "very interested in IP law", you're being silly.  First, it looks like you haven't even applied to law school yet, correct?  Much less taken a law class related to it?  So how do you know?

Second, there are multiple areas of "IP law" -- at the very least, there is litigation (under which one can lump patent, trademark, copyright, and trade secret litigation), there is trademark (minor area, mostly when you have a business client for whom you handle other stuff), there is copyright (potentially a career, especially if you went to work for an outfit like RIAA or ASCAP), and there is patent prosecution.  You could also possibly lump in "sports and entertainment law" under IP;  it's mostly a mix of contract and copyright, along with salary negotiations and bailing drunk drummers out of jail after bar fights.

The only one that absolutely requires any sort of science or engineering background is patent prosecution, and that's because you have to know the science in order to do the job.  If you know nothing about chemistry, and a client comes in to talk about the process he's developed for making octanitrocubane, you're not going to be able to understand a word of what he's saying, nor how to write it up as a patent application.

nerfco

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Re: IP law undergrad preferences...
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2010, 01:04:26 PM »
The only one that absolutely requires any sort of science or engineering background is patent prosecution, and that's because you have to know the science in order to do the job.

This is completely true, but there are a lot of IP boutiques who do both patent prosecution and patent litigation who really only interview people who could write the patent bar. This makes a science undergrad more useful than it otherwise would be, even if you're only interested in patent litigation rather than prosecution.