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Career Advice - Patent Bar Exam?


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4 replies to this topic

#1 of 5 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted February 23 2005 - 06:35 AM

The goal: Become a Patent Attorney.

Plan A: Continue working for my current corporate giant as electrical engineer and go to law school part time using our educational assistance program (free...). However, that's not going to work for the following reason: Contentious relationship with my supervisor, who will never approve classes outside of engineering despite company policy stating I could do whatever I want as long as it's accredited. Or he may bow to the policy and make my life even more of a living hell. No thanks. Also, that will require staying in CT for at least 5 more years. The truth is, I want out of this position and state.

Bottom line, plan A is out.

Plan B: Start studying now and pass the notoriously difficult Patent Bar Exam within the next six months, thus qualifying me for Patent Agent jobs. Target locations are Chicago & NYC, with a preference for Chicago (I want something new). That will still leave me with zero experience in the legal field, and I would start as an entry level Patent Agent in some firm or corporation, and go to law school part time, even if I have to fund it myself (loans...). Do law firms or tech companies hire engineers with no legal experience as Patent Agents?

The exam is supposed to be "extremely difficult". A cursory search for prep course shows that I can enroll for a 5 days class in NYC for $2000, or get test prep package (videos, CD-ROms etc...) for patbar.com for $800. Or I could just get the books and study myself, which I don't doubt, requires an obscene amount of discipline. Are the classes worth it?

Working for the USPTO is not an option at the moment, despite the extremely attractive funding for Law School that they offer, because I am not yet a US citizen (should be sometime next year, but I can't wait that long).

I know there are a couple of practicing IP attorneys on this forum (don't make me call you out by name Posted Image ), and I shall very much appreciate their inputs. My goals clear, but the path is not.

TIA.

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#2 of 5 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted February 23 2005 - 07:52 AM

Holadem, if you take a look here http://www.hometheat....ghlight=patent you will see that the PTO has stopped tuition help for examiners going to law school.

I took the PTO registration exam in 1996, only two weeks after the CA bar....I had to come back the next year and take it again. I would have passed no problem if I wasn't stuck taking it right after a state bar.

Speaking generally, the PTO exam isn't that difficult. It also has a very low pass rate (< 50%). These two statements are not in conflict. Once you have been engaged in patent prosecution work the test isn't that bad. It's a test on the arcane world of the procedures you go through in patent prosecution. It's really hard to understand it without the context of actually doing the work. You need to get an up-to-date copy of the MPEP. It's available for free download at the PTO site. You will need a good duplexing printer as it's about 1800 (!) pages long. Just memorize the MPEP and you should do all right on the PTO exam. When I took the exam it was open book....I'm not sure what the situation is today.
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#3 of 5 OFFLINE   Holadem

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Posted February 23 2005 - 08:00 AM

Thanks Dennis,

Did you take any courses or get any help?

Memorizing 1800 pages sounds evil.

Is is worth it to take the exam and get into this line of work without a JD (which for me is couple of years away at this point)?

Thanks.

[EDIT] I read recently that the tuition incentive is back at the USPTO, but again in my case, it's irrelevant.

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#4 of 5 OFFLINE   mark alan

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Posted February 23 2005 - 08:35 AM

I took the exam without taking a prep course and passed first try. It can be done. Whether it will help you in your career is another thing entirely. Succeeding in law is strictly a matter of the law school you go to and your class ranking (unless your dad happens to be the CEO of IBM, or a partner in a big NY law firm). Being admitted to practice before the PO will help, but only if you have the school/class ranking.

Some firms do hire patent agents while they attend LS. I would recommend you find some firms in areas you are interested in that have a patent practice. Contact a partner with an EE background and ask (politely) to talk about your situation. Maybe you will get lucky. At worst, you will get some good advice.

#5 of 5 OFFLINE   Leo Hinze

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Posted February 24 2005 - 05:54 AM

Good luck.