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ScottSummers

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Question about area of study
« on: September 19, 2005, 12:53:59 PM »
Hi,

I've been thinking lately of the area of study that I would like to be a part of and patent law is one of my choices.  I'm wondering if there are any patent law students or lawyers out there that would please give me a bit of background information on what this area of law involves, and also what it's like working in that field?  Thanks for your help.

lincolnsgrandson

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2005, 07:01:03 AM »
The most important thing you should know is that patent or IP firms are looking exclusively for students with a "technical background."  Technical background means an undergrad degree (and, it helps, a graduate degree) in a hard physical science or engineering.  Without that background, it would be generous to say that a career in patent law is a long shot.

That being said, I'm taking patent law now (primarily to round out my IP education), and the class is full of students who already know it.  Most of them have already been patent agents, or had their summer jobs doing patent law.

I picked up Schechter's Principles of Patent Law.  It's been reasonably helpful.  It's only about $36.

SkullTatt

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2005, 01:28:50 PM »
I just talked to a patent litigator who is a partner in his firm, and he directly contradicted the above. He said that you need a science background to be a patent attorney or patent prosecutor, but not a patent litigator.

He referred to his firm as a whole (an IP law firm) and said that there are a few people there who have science degrees or backgrounds, and you can turn to them if you have trouble with some of the science in a case. He said you DO need to be able to sit down and figure out the technical underpinnings of whatever case you are arguing. You just don't necessarily need a science degree to do that.

be10dwn

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2005, 01:31:19 PM »
From my limited knowledge, I think you ahve to be able to pass the patent bar exam, which suposedly is mad difficult unless you are a techie kind of person.  This may not mean you have to have a degree in that field, but it would probably help.  Just my 2 cents

XYZZY

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #4 on: September 20, 2005, 01:36:56 PM »
it should be noted that a science background, although a key issue isn't the significant issue.  It's the ability to sit for the patent bar exam.  I suppose one could study the matter by themself, but how does a non PTO-registered attorney understand the substantive patentability matters that affect litigation?

While the PTO is primarily concerned with patentability, the courts are concerned with both patentability and infringement.  To do it without the science background would require a much higher law school pedigree or a lot of luck in gaining a book of business.

XYZZY

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2005, 01:38:48 PM »
From my limited knowledge, I think you ahve to be able to pass the patent bar exam, which suposedly is mad difficult unless you are a techie kind of person.  This may not mean you have to have a degree in that field, but it would probably help.  Just my 2 cents

the patent examination does not test science.  It's strictly procedural.  The reason the test requires a science background is obviously someone has to understand the invention in order to properly claim it.

(it's still difficult)  40% pass rate among attorneys/agents

ScottSummers

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2005, 04:33:54 PM »
Thanks for the responses guys.  If there's anything else I should know let me know.

Btw, I have a bachelor's in computer science if that means anything.

SkullTatt

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2005, 05:51:46 PM »
You guys are getting patent prosecution confused with patent litigation. There is a big difference. Patent prosecution (which requires having a science background and passing the patent bar) is not "prosecuting," or suing, people who have violated patents. That is patent litigation. Patent prosecution is "the process of obtaining a patent," and people who do this are called patent attorneys.

http://www.bromsun.com/practice/patents/patent_prosecution.html

lincolnsgrandson

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #8 on: September 20, 2005, 09:48:03 PM »
My point is less about what kind of knowledge you need to actually pracitice patent law (prosecution or litigation) as what credentials you need today in order to get the job.  As to whether or not a science degree would make you a better IP attorney, I could not say.  I have heard mixed answers from attorneys, including those who have made the distinction between prosecution and litigation.

Sadly, I don't think computer science counts for their purposes.  But you should find out.

here's the list of attorneys who do patent litigation at the lawfirm that was referenced.  Check for yourself.
http://www.bromsun.com/profess/
Pay closer attention to the young associates, that provides an idea of what they are looking for right now.

lincolnsgrandson

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Re: Question about area of study
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2005, 08:13:35 AM »
One more thing - IP firms often ask for your undergrad transcript.