What Does a Patent Lawyer Do?
Protecting your intellectual property (IP) in today’s day and age is more important than ever, making finding a decent patent lawyer the best thing you can do to protect your invention, process, or design. Patent law is a specialized area of intellectual property law, finding an attorney that is competent in the field of your inventions can do wonders for the type of IP protection you’re looking for.
What Do Patent Lawyers Do?
So, you’re probably wondering by now, what does a patent lawyer do? Patent lawyers help inventors and applicants research their invention and guide them throughout the patent application process. A good patent lawyer will get inventors the best patent protection possible over their invention. It takes attorneys years to learn how to properly draft patent applications. Going to law school and passing the patent bar exam does not guarantee that an attorney will be able to write a patent application.
Learning how to properly draft a patent application takes years of experience. Lawyers typically learn how to draft them by assisting experienced attorneys drafting such applications.
Patent attorneys usually work in the field of intellectual property law with a focus on patent law. In the United States, to become a patent lawyer, an individual must attend and complete law school, they must take the general bar exam in their respective state, and they must also pass the patent bar exam.
If you have a business that has valuable intellectual property, you should hire an experienced patent lawyer who has some experience in patenting inventions that are within the field of your invention.
Most attorneys do not know about patent law. When you’re looking for a patent attorney, make sure that they have passed the USPTO Patent Examination and have a background in science and technology.
So, what does the typical day for a patent attorney look like? Patent attorneys oversee patent litigation, work on composing and prosecuting patent applications, and taking on patent infringement cases.
Because of these many responsibilities, patent lawyers should have a decent knowledge base of technology and patent law to competently advise and represent their clients in patent and patent related matters.
Patent lawyers have to be able to have enough experience to advise their clients and give them feedback on their inventions. Patent attorneys are lucky in that they are able to see what the future holds in terms of new technology.
How to Become a Patent Lawyer?
To become a patent lawyer, and individual must satisfy the following requirements:
- Bachelor’s Degree. If a person wants to become a patent lawyer, he must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution in one of the following fields:
- Civil Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Biomedical Engineering
- Law School. To become an attorney, an individual must have completed law school from an accredited university in the United States.
- Bar Exam. An individual must also pass the bar exam in their state
- Patent Bar Exam. For an attorney to become a patent attorney, he must pass the USPTO Licensing Exam, which is commonly known as the Patent Bar Exam.
Patent law is always changing to accommodate the new technology that’s being introduced, for patent attorneys to remain sharp, they need to keep up with any new patent laws and changes.
How Much do Patent Lawyers Make?
According to Payscale.com, the average patent attorney makes $138,618 per year. Salaries range from a low of $82,000 to a high of $204,000. Entry level patent attorneys should expect to make $96,340 during the first couple of years of their career.
A patent attorney’s salary depends on the attorney’s experience, geographical location, and field of experience. Experienced patent attorneys can expect to make $160,795 and patent attorneys late in their career make $178,981.
Role of a Patent Lawyer
The role of a patent lawyer is to help inventors patent their invention, machines, process, or design. Patent attorneys typically help inventors prepare, file, and prosecute their patent application. Once a patent has been issued or granted by the patent office, patent attorneys help clients enforce their patents by suing parties that infringe upon them.
Inventors patent their inventions because a patent allows them restrict others from using, making, and selling their invention for a limited period of time. Usually 20 years for utility patents, 15 years for design patents, and 20 years of plant patents.
How to Find a Good Patent Lawyer?
Before searching for an attorney, you need to know what type of attorney you need. To protect a patent, you will need to find a patent attorney that specializes in the field of your invention. For example, if you have developed a medication that you want patent, you will have to find a patent attorney that specializes in patenting pharmaceuticals.
Here are some options for finding a good patent attorney:
- Attorney Sites
To find a good patent lawyer, you can search sites, such as Legal Zoom, Avvo, Nolo, and Best Lawyers. They have hundreds of attorneys who can assist you with patenting and patenting related manners. Patent attorneys can help you complete, file, and prosecute your patent application. They can also represent you in a courtroom on any related or unrelated matter.
- Ask Family, Friends, and Co-workers
Asking your friends, family, and co-workers can be a great way to find a decent patent attorney. Personal References can often help you find a good attorney.
- Ask a Lawyer you Know
You may be able to find a patent attorney by asking a lawyer you already know. Even though they may not be a patent attorney, they may be able to recommend a good patent attorney. Attorneys know other attorneys, so don’t hesitate to as a lawyer you know to recommend a patent lawyer.
- State Bar Attorney Directory
You can contact your State Bar Association and ask them to help you find an attorney. Most, if not all State Bar Associations have a directory of attorneys you can choose from. Some Associations may charge you a fee to help you find an attorney.
Although finding the right attorney may take you a lot of time in the beginning, remember that if you’re trying to patent your invention, you’ll have to deal with the same attorney for at least a year or two, even more if the patent office grants your patent.
Tasks a Patent Lawyer Performs
Here is a list of tasks that a patent lawyer is expected to perform:
- Preparing patent applications for clients and inventors
- Paying patent office fees, including application fees, patent search fees, and patent maintenance fees
- Prosecuting patent applications on behalf of their clients
- Bringing lawsuits against those who infringe upon their client’s intellectual property
- Deals with the transfer of intellectual property rights
- Deals with licensing their client’s intellectual property
- They advise clients on how to protect their intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights
Do you Need a Lawyer to Get a Patent?
Inventors and applicants are not required to hire a lawyer to get a patent. In fact, the U.S Patent Office is required to help inventors and applicants patent their own invention. That said, hiring a patent lawyer is highly recommended to avoid making costly mistakes on the patent application.
While preparing and filing a patent application without an attorney is allowed, it’s not recommended because the patenting process is quite complex and requires a trained individual’s help. A good patent attorney will be able to get you the best possible patent protection for your invention by accurately describing your invention and how it’s different from existing inventions in the field of your invention.
If you want a professional to help you preparing and filing your patent and cannot afford a patent lawyer, you can look for a registered patent agent. Patent agents are qualified to prepare and file patent applications, but they cannot represent you in a court room. They will however be very valuable in preparing and prosecuting your patent application.
Like lawyers, patent agents can prepare, file, and communicate with the patent office on your behalf, however if you need something like a confidentiality agreement drafted, they will not be able to help you with that.
In the event that you do not have the funds to hire a patent agent or patent attorney, you can file a provisional patent application with the USPTO. A provisional patent application will give you some protection while you find investors who are interested in backing your invention.
Interview with a Patent Lawyer
If you’ve found a patent lawyer and you have an invention that is worth protecting, you might be wondering what should you have prepared for the initial interview? For the initial interview be prepare for the following:
- Describe your invention with as much detail as possible to your patent attorney. Share a copy of any notes you took while working on your invention with your lawyer.
- Bring your invention or photos of your invention with you, this will assist the patent lawyer in understanding your invention and how it works, the better your attorney knows your invention, the better he can protect your invention
- Create an outline of all of the documents that you want to share with your attorney so your lawyer will have an easier time getting through the information
- Ask your attorney if he has any expertise handling patents that are within the same field as your invention. Attorneys that have worked on inventions that are similar to yours will be better able to understand and protect your invention
Job Duties of a Patent Lawyer
The job duties of a patent lawyer are to assist inventors and applicants in obtaining patents from the USPTO. Patent lawyers represent individuals who are seeking to obtain a patent to protect their invention. Patent lawyers’ day to day includes writing patent applications, prosecuting them, and counseling those seeking patents.
Patent attorneys often handle patent infringement cases, either representing patent holders who want to protect their intellectual property or a party accused of infringing upon another’s patent.
Are Patent Lawyers in Demand?
According to the New York Times, patent lawyers are in high demand, with more than 15% of law firm job offerings looking for patent attorney while representing only 3% of lawyers in the United States.
There is a growing demand for patent attorneys, law firms are even “doubling recruitment fees to meet the growing demand for intellectual property attorneys.” So, if you’re a lawyer thinking about taking the patent bar exam, it’s a great time to become a patent lawyer.
Patent Lawyer Conclusion
This article explained what patent lawyers do, how much money they make, and the duties they have. We also covered how an individual can become a patent attorney, as well as the tasks that patent attorneys perform. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.