Patent attorneys are legal professionals who specialize in patent law. They are responsible for helping clients secure patents to protect their inventions. These attorneys review notes and documents regarding inventions to determine whether or not the item qualifies for a patent. Many times, inventions can fall in an excluded area that does not qualify for patent protection. Patent attorneys perform research to ensure an invention does not already exist or is already patented. If an invention meets the legal conditions to be patentable, these attorneys guide their clients through the application, drafting and legal process in order to receive the patent. Those looking to pursue a job as a patent attorney may want to gain additional experience as a patent law clerk or paralegal while finishing their education.
Patent Attorney Education Requirements
To become a patent attorney, candidates first need to finish four years of undergraduate study. After the bachelor's degree, students take the Law School Admission Test, or LSAT, to get into an American Bar Association-approved law school. Law school graduates finish with a Juris Doctorate degree (J.D.) in law. In order to practice as a patent attorney, candidates must be admitted to the bar. Each state has different qualifications for admission, but, in general, an attorney must pass a written state bar exam and prove the character and knowledge necessary to represent clients in legal matters. Patent attorneys must also pass a patent bar exam to prove their knowledge in that specific subject area.
Patent Attorney Job Market
The job outlook for patent attorney jobs is expected to rise approximately 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations. New attorneys should expect strong competition for open jobs. Typically, more attorneys graduate from law school each year than there are open positions with firms.
Patent Attorney Salary
The median annual salary for patent attorney jobs is $113,530 per year. Salary ranges vary depending on years of experience, type of law firm worked for, and the attorney's case load.