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Author Topic: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors  (Read 7565 times)

waffle

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Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« on: June 28, 2006, 12:18:22 AM »
In the long run, is it a disadvantage for you to complete a major outside of "category A: having a bachelor's degree in a recognized technical subject" merely because it's simply more tedious for you to be able to sit for the exam (I'm not talking about not majoring in a science, but I am talking about the option of going to a school with either biophysics as a major or a school without a biology major in name - e.g. Cornell, which has "biological sciences' with concentrations such as biochemistry) or because it can harm you for employment opportunities?

If I were to go into patent law I would want to do things with drugs, proteins, etc.  I would assume most would say biochemistry/molecular biology are the best majors for this, yet I know that biophysics is on the rise even though it is offered at few schools and not on the recognized subjects for the patent bar.  I enjoy physics very much so, but would biophysics (or even biochemistry with a concentration in physics or vice versa) be advantageous in this field.  Would it be better since, from what I hear at least, the biotechnology movement is becoming more and more associated with biophysics than biochemistry?  Could majoring in something like biophysics (or doing something interdisciplinary with biochemistry and physics) hurt in the long run since it's harder leading to a possible lower GPA?  Would employers (at least from what I hear) rather employ someone who majored in something they "know" about rather than something new and specialized?

Sorry for the long post, but answers would be GREATLY appreciated.  Thanks!

Gary Glitter

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2006, 01:46:39 AM »
I think that you are mistaken in your assumption that patent attorneys specialize in one particular breed of science. I have talked to the head of the IP / Patent department of one of the country's largest and most respected IP firms and he told me that as a patent attorney you will be exposed to an entire array of scientific disciplines; no one particular field of study will be able to prepare you holistically for what you will encounter as an IP attorney. Instead, they want to see that you have the requisite background to build that fundamental (and yet still somewhat basic) understanding of the particular technology that you will be representing. This means that you are familiar with the scientific method in its practical, real world application.

Generally speaking, you're either a bio guy or an engineering guy. Depending upon your background, you will be placed in the appropriate department. I've been told that generally a BS alone is insufficient to acheive the minimum level of exposure required for patent law. Apparently this is what hiring partners look for:

1) BS + a minimum 3 years relevant work experience spent in either a) biotech (in a research capacity, not a production capacity) or b) academic research (generally preferable)

2) BS + MS in related field

3) BS + PhD (for obvious reasons this combination provides the most career flexibiltiy but also requires a tremendous amount of time, commitment, etc. - generally reserved for those who complete a PhD and only then realize that they hate doing research and want to become a money-grubbing patent attorney instead).

In other words, IP firms want to see that you have the ability for form an understanding of a new and novel technology. This doesn't mean that they're splitting hairs between biophysics and biochems majors - as long as the experience is there, it's all much the same to these firms. For example, the head of this huge IP department has a PhD in physical chemistry. Despite this heavy chem backgorund, he has represented new technologies pertaining to magnets (nothing to do with p-chem), pesticides, various bio antagonists, etc. - u get the idea.

Anyway - I hope that this helps. I'm sitting for the patent bar this summer. It requires an immense amount of prep and the material is beyond dry. You might want to look into it before you dive headlong into the arena...

 
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thorc954

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2006, 07:50:09 PM »
Do something that falls in one of the categories and that you will do well in/enjoy.  That is all that really matters. 

SplitFinger

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2006, 10:12:12 PM »
I'm sitting for the patent bar this summer. It requires an immense amount of prep and the material is beyond dry. You might want to look into it before you dive headlong into the arena...

 

Christ, isn't this the truth... yeesh.
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Gary Glitter

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2006, 01:27:38 AM »
yeah man it's hell on earth

filing dates, CIPs, claim drafting, ARGGGghhhHHHH!!!
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waffle

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #5 on: July 13, 2006, 11:47:04 AM »
Thank you for all of the advice so far.  I have talked with a patent lawyer and it only intrigues me more, and I also read a sample patent.

When trying to get employment as a patent lawyer, does prestige of your law school matter as much as for other fields of law and will your income usually be greater? I have been researching patent law for awhile, so don't think that I'm only in it for the money (I only realized how much patent lawyers supposedly make today, but my main goal for looking at this field is combining law and science). I read in a book that most fields of law pay relatively the same and that the only real differences are usually your firm size, prestige of school, etc. It said that the exception is patent/intellectual property law mainly because these lawyers are required to have certain undergraduate majors and must take another bar exam, putting them in higher demand. Because of this, does the prestige of your law school matter as much for patent law as for other fields of law (don't get me wrong - I will aim as high as I can and am still way far off from law school) because of different requirements and more demand?

Also, good look to all of you taking the patent bar exam!

Gary Glitter

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #6 on: July 13, 2006, 11:49:32 AM »
so how much are first year patent attorneys making these days?
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Einstein

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #7 on: July 13, 2006, 04:57:32 PM »
Thank you for all of the advice so far.  I have talked with a patent lawyer and it only intrigues me more, and I also read a sample patent.

When trying to get employment as a patent lawyer, does prestige of your law school matter as much as for other fields of law and will your income usually be greater? I have been researching patent law for awhile, so don't think that I'm only in it for the money (I only realized how much patent lawyers supposedly make today, but my main goal for looking at this field is combining law and science). I read in a book that most fields of law pay relatively the same and that the only real differences are usually your firm size, prestige of school, etc. It said that the exception is patent/intellectual property law mainly because these lawyers are required to have certain undergraduate majors and must take another bar exam, putting them in higher demand. Because of this, does the prestige of your law school matter as much for patent law as for other fields of law (don't get me wrong - I will aim as high as I can and am still way far off from law school) because of different requirements and more demand?

Also, good look to all of you taking the patent bar exam!

My understanding is that law school prestige matters less (this is a relative term, mind you--with lawyers, I'm sure it still matters a whole lot) and the prestige of the university or department where you got your science degree matters a whole lot more.

Or you graduate as an engineer and sit for the FE/EIT exam and pass it with flying colors.  This is the right of passage for engineers.. it is kinda like the bar exam for engineers.  Once you pass that, then people know that you know what you are doing.
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waffle

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #8 on: July 13, 2006, 09:20:44 PM »
How do concentrations (or even minors) figure into employment for patent law?  For example, let's say I wanted to have a field of study in biophysics, but the major isn't there (or I don't want to do the major).  If decided to major in biochemistry and molecular biology at a college like Wesleyan and pursue their program with certification in molecular biophysics, would that stand out for employment?  Are you allowed to make your academic expertise shine on your own unique level, or are you defined by your major (example - you major in physics but concentrate your studies in biophysics.  would an employer simply look at you as a physics major or would they see that biophysics is what your real interest is?)?  One thing that I'd be nervous about is if they really only looked at your major even if you did biophysics studies.  For example, in doing biophysics studies/concentrations, I'd probably be interested in employment dealing with drugs, medicine, proteins, etc., yet if they only looked at me as a physics major, could I get stuck with a job without any biology aspects?  Yes, I know that it was stated that fine points/details between majors doesn't matter, but that's for biochemistry and biophysics, which I think have a little more in common than just biophysics and physics, since the former is more interdisciplinary.

SammyJenkins

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Re: Looking at Patent Law - Questions on Majors
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2006, 04:56:27 PM »
so how much are first year patent attorneys making these days?

I have a friend who is interning right now at a mega IP firm, and is expecting to get a 130k offer from them when he graduates. He goes to T2 in Chicago, top 10% of his class, and has a BSEE as well.  For patent law, I am led to believe that your undergrad as well as law school degrees matter.  If you went to a good engineering undergrad, then that proves to clients and firms that you are a competent engineer.  The demand for EE's is as high as its ever been. There are only a handful of lawyers in the country that qualify for the patent bar exam.