Getting Motivated: The Best Way to Study for the Patent Bar Exam

The patent bar exam is the biggest step in your journey to becoming a patent attorney or patent agent. In many cases, it will also be the last step you need to take to begin your career. Before taking the patent bar examination, you want to be prepared and brimming to the top with all the right information.

The patent bar is a difficult exam. There are bright sides to the exam, like the fact that it’s all multiple choice questions and that you’re allowed to have the MPEP manual by your side while testing. This should help alleviate some of that stress on your shoulders.

However, your test time is limited, and shuffling through the MPEP for an answer will eat up your valuable time. You’ll want to answer as many questions as possible without using the MPEP.

So, what can you do to be prepared? Of course, it is more than simply guessing multiple-choice questions, you need to be prepared as possible. These tips will have you prepared and give you the positive mindset you need.

Have a Plan of Action Ready

Having a plan of action will help keep you organized while you’re studying. You’ll want to create a structured study plan that you can stick to regardless of any distractions.

Do you study better at night or in the morning? Do you have to study around a work schedule? Make sure your study schedule is what works best for you so you can optimize your learning and studying skills.

You should also create a study plan on what you’re going to study and when you’re going to study it. You want to be making sure you’re studying the most important patent cases and the important patent laws.

Set goals for yourself but make sure they’re realistic. Set a goal of how many pages you’re going to read that day or what information you want to have absorbed by the end of a study session. This gives you something specific to focus on.

It helps to ease your mind if on the day of the exam—you know exactly what office building you need to go to and what room you’ll need to report to. This will help maintain the organization you’ve been relying on. If you’re running around and not sure where to go, you’ll stress yourself out.

Take a Study Course

You don’t want to go into the exam blindly. The best way to be prepared for the patent bar examination is to take a study course that caters specifically to the patent bar exam. There are live courses you can take but that’s not your only choice when looking for a patent review course.

We have been offering an independent study review course for over a decade that’s helped prepare countless students to pass the exam. We offer you all the tools and the information that you need to pass the patent bar exam.

Through an independent course like ours, you can study with the aid of your laptop (or even your smartphone) wherever you are. Our interactive course allows you to remember what you’ve learned so you can use the information when you need it.

Study with a Friend or a Group

Adding a study group to your study mix can be extremely beneficial to your learning, especially if you’re a social butterfly. You won’t get lonely during all those hours of studying.

This also gives you a support system to lean on. You’re all taking the patent bar, so all of you will know and understand the pressure the exam will have on you. You can prepare notes, discuss study techniques, and you can even have someone to talk to if you start stressing out over the exam. It’s possible to find someone online to lean on, even if there’s no one near you geographically.

Everyone learns differently and everyone studies differently. All of our brains are unique in the way we remember, think, and perceive information. Studying in a group will open you up to new ways to study and to retain the information you need for the exam.

Study before Bed

Believe it or not, studying before bed can help you retain new information better than studying any other time of the day. It used to be a myth we all relied on the night before a big test in high school. Now there’s science and numerous studies to back it up.

During sleep, our brains create new neurological pathways to help retain the information we absorbed before bed. The cortex of our brain remains active while we’re catching some sleep.

Speaking of sleep, you need a healthy night of sleep before the exam. If you stay up all night studying, chances are you’ll be drained right when you walk into the exam room. You’ll be forgetful, you’ll be sleepy, and your concentration (and your confidence) will drop. And you need to be at your top performance level to handle the 6-hour exam where difficult questions will be thrown your way throughout the entire day. So don’t skip out on sleep the night before.

Bonus Tips

  • Practice tests are a fantastic asset when studying for an exam. They let you know where you’re at with your studying and what you need to focus on.
  • Do you love music? Music (without lyrics) has been known to help study nights run smoother and help you remember all the information you’re feeding your brain.
  • A healthy breakfast before the exam will boost your energy levels, reduce any test anxiety, and boost your confidence.

Conclusion

Studying to become a patent attorney or patent agent doesn’t have to mentally exhaust you. There are instrumental tips you can use to optimize how you retain information, what you retain, and how to use that information to not only pass your exam but to continue to use the information you learned throughout your patent law career.

MPEP Search Strategy for the Patent Bar Exam

search-4-500You probably already realize you may use the MPEP during the Patent Bar exam. For many, that gives off the impression that the test is an open book exam you don’t really need to study for.  But an attitude like that will definitely result in failure.

The fact is, although you can use the MPEP, the exam is timed and you won’t have enough time to look up anywhere near all the questions on the exam.

Each session of the exam is 3 hours (180 minutes) and consists of 50 questions. If you do the math that means on average you have about 3.6 minutes to answer each question.

Many of the questions are long and complicated so it will take you some time to read the question, quickly review the answer choices, and determine what to search for.  It will likely take you at least a minute to get to this point. So that leaves you with an average of a little over 2 minutes to search for each question.

Between the MPEP and all the supplements you have access to that’s well over 2,000 pages you will need to search through in order to find any given question.  Although the computerized version of the exam does offer an electronic MPEP in PDF format with a search function, the search function is limited.

MPEP Search Feature

With the search feature available on the computerized MPEP you have access to the day of the test you have to open the correct document first.

That means you have to know exactly which chapter or supplement the question is covered in. Once you’ve got the correct chapter or supplement open, you can type in your search string and click ‘Find’.

From there, the MPEP viewer will take you to the first instance of that search string found in that document.  If the search string is found within the chapter multiple times, you’ll have the opportunity to click ‘Find’ again. The viewer will take you to all the different instances, one at a time.

As you can imagine, if you type in a search string that is not specific enough, you’ll waste a lot of time clicking through all the instances of that string.  Therefore, it’s very important to use a very specific string when searching.

As you can see, practicing ahead of time using the MPEP to look up questions is going to help you out.

In addition, you’ll need to know all the chapters and supplements cold before going into the exam. That means when you see a question covering a detail of ‘Access’ you know within an instant that chapter 100 is the one you’ll need to search through. This can become tricky for many of the questions as some topics span multiple chapters, but with effort and study on your part, it’ll become second nature.

One way to fast-track learning the MPEP chapters is to try using flashcards. You can write a topic on one side of the card and the chapter or chapters it’s found in on the other.  We offer an MPEP Classification Quiz in our Patent Bar Review Course that works in a similar manner. Within this quiz, there are 100+ topics covered. You just type in the chapter number for each topic and receive a score at the end that lets you know how well you’re doing.

Many of our clients are finding it very helpful.

The next tip is to use specific search strings. In fact, often, you can copy and paste a small snippet of the question or even one of the answer choices into the search box and use that as your search string.  That will cut down on the number of times you have to click on the ‘Find’ button. With enough thought on your search string selection, you may be able to get to the right section of the MPEP chapter with one or two clicks.

Another tip is to look at the table of contents that will show up on the left side of the MPEP viewer. If you’ve put in enough study time you’ll likely know exactly where the topic is covered just by looking at the subheadings.

This is why it’s important to use a study aid that keeps the same headings and subheadings found in the MPEP as we have done in our Guidebooks.  By learning and reviewing the material in our summarized outlines you’ll short-cut your time and know where the material is located the day of the test.

It’s important to use the MPEP when you start taking practice exams. This will help you get in the habit of looking up the material. But you cannot rely on the MPEP as a crutch.  No matter how good you get at using the search feature you will not be able to look up each and every question on your exam. In fact, we estimate based on research from our clients that you can look up between 10 and 15 questions per session. So that’s only around 20 to 30 questions on the entire test.

Clearly, you need to know the material well enough to know the correct answer for many of the questions. By studying diligently, you will be able to do this. By taking practice exams you’ll know much of the material to the extent that you don’t need to look it up.  Then for those questions you don’t know or aren’t sure of, you can use the MPEP to search.  Between intense studying for the exam and practice using the MPEP, getting to a passing score of 70% or above is possible for anyone willing to put in the effort.

How to Study for the Patent Bar Exam

office-supplies-400The Patent Bar is a difficult test to prepare for no matter how you’re going about it. Whether you’re studying the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) on your own, reviewing a home study course, or taking a live class, the sheer volume of legalese can be difficult for even the most dedicated individual.

In this article, we’ll cover a few tips that will help you plan a winning strategy for passing the exam.

Patent Bar Basics

First of all, let’s cover a few basics on the Patent Bar. The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. You don’t get penalized for guessing so you’ll want to answer each question. With this exam, it’s important not to leave anything blank.

You have 6 hours to answer all the questions. The 6 hour period is broken up into two, 3-hour sessions with 50 questions each session.

If you do the math you’ll see that you only have about 3 and a half minutes per question. Some of the questions are very long, they include many details, and are essentially designed to trip you up. So they aren’t all easy to understand, straightforward questions. Many will take you over a minute just to read and digest.

MPEP Search Strategy

The only silver lining to all this is that you have access to the MPEP and any tested supplements during the exam. And you’ve got to use that to your advantage.

You won’t have time to look up all the answers while you’re taking the Patent Bar, but you can probably look up between 20 and 30 questions on test day.  So every study strategy should involve learning where the material is at within the MPEP and any additional supplements that you’ll be tested over.

Patent laws are constantly in flux, so it’s very important to make sure your study materials and the version of the MPEP you’re studying are the currently tested version.

If you’re taking the test via a computer, you’ll have access to PDF versions of all this material. If you’re taking it during the physical test offered once-a-year you’ll have paper copies of all this material.

Either way, you must have a solid understanding of how to use these materials to find specific topics.  Even with the computerized version of the MPEP you still must know the chapter and be adept at knowing where the topics are at. The search function you’ll have access to the day of the test is very limited.

That means learning where the material is at is highly important. Your review materials should keep the same headings and subheadings as those in the MPEP so as you’re going through the material, you’re not only learning some of the concepts, but you’re also learning where to find them.

If you’re studying with the MPEP then you’ll definitely get good at this (although you’ll have a lot of material to wade through).  If your study materials don’t offer this feature, then you’ll have to review the MPEP on your own a little.

It’s very important to know that the topic of Assignment is covered in Chapter 300. It’s even better if you know that the procedures for correcting errors in a recorded assignment document are found in 323.

Outlining, Mind Maps & Note Taking

note-taking-400Make sure as you’re learning the concepts, you’re also paying attention to where specific concepts and topics are located. You might want to make an outline as you’re preparing for the exam.

You don’t want to sit and re-copy everything, but organizing the information into your own format is very useful.  You could list out the main sections of each chapter of the MPEP and next to the section number, include a brief summary of what’s covered within it.  That’s an ideal method for studying if you have the time.

Another idea is to create mind maps. Draw out a quick map of some of the more difficult information. Or create a quick table for a topic that revolves around a lot of dates. These might include simple tables where you list the date along with what happens before that specific date in one column and what happens after that date in a second column.

Lastly, you can type the most difficult material into your computer or write it on a notepad a few times. Even read the sentence out loud can be a good study strategy.

Repetition helps.

So use an outline, a mind map, flowchart, or just jot notes down.  If you take the time to put the information into your own words, some of it will really stick in your mind. Even if you don’t, the act of typing or writing it out will help you remember it.

Since the material is so dense and complicated, it’s not expected that you would understand it all completely the first time you’ve reviewed it.  It’s very important to try not to get too hung up on the material you’re having trouble with. It’s better to keep your momentum and keep moving forward.

You’ll also be surprised how much of the complex material will sort itself out if you keep moving forward. Some of the topics build on other sections. Although it can be frustrating to leave a confusing topic behind, once you’ve gone through more of the material, you’ll probably understand what you were initially having trouble with.

When you come across a topic you’re finding difficult, the best advice is to write it down. You may want to include the section number along with a brief note on the topic, then keep moving along with your preparations.

Keep track of all the topics you don’t quite understand. You may have a pretty long list by the time you get through even a few chapters.  That’s OK. If you don’t like the size of your list, then after you go through a few chapters review it.

Cross out any topic that you’ve eventually sorted out. Take the time to revisit a few of the troublesome topics and see if they make more sense to you now. Write out any other notes on that topic and then again, keep moving forward.  Try doing this a few times during your preparations. It’s a nice way to keep studying, but to switch things up a little.

Final Review

As you near your test day you’ll undoubtedly still have a list of confusing topics. One of the best things to do during your final review is to look over these topics and see if you can sort a few more out.

If not, don’t panic.

These are exactly the types of topics you should plan to look up on test day. So make sure you know exactly where the material is located within the MPEP or a supplement you’ll have access to the day of the exam. If you have any questions on this topic on your exam, you may be able to figure out the answer by looking it up.

Another good idea during your final review is to once again study the chapters that are the most heavily tested.  These include chapters 700 and 2100. Not only are these two of the longest chapters, but they’re two of the most heavily tested chapters.

In addition to 700 and 2100; chapters 600, 1200, 1800, and 2200 are also heavily tested. It’s smart to spend some of your final review answering questions and reviewing material from these chapters if you can.  You can definitely expect to see several questions from each of these chapters on your exam.

Planning Out Your Strategy

bullseye-400Lastly, make sure you’ve got a strategy planned out with at least a few deadlines.  At the very minimum, before you get started with anything else, think about how many months you have to prepare. This is a very important question to answer.

After running a Patent Bar Review course for the last 19 years, I’ve helped a countless number of people pass the exam. And the first thing I suggest to each and every one of them is to create a study schedule. I even offer customized study plans for people right after they enroll. Whether you enroll in our course, someone else’s, or plan to wade through the MPEP on your own, you’ve got to plan out your strategy.

For example, three months is enough time for many people to pass the exam. If you don’t have a review course, then I’d suggest allowing 6 months. If you have minimal time to study each week (like 10 hours a week or less), then double your expected length of study time.

Buy a calendar and work backward from your test date. You should chart out the activities you need to complete and list specific dates.

For example, if you have 12 weeks to study you might break down the MPEP chapters or your study material up over 7 weeks. Then spend 4 weeks reviewing practice exam questions and looking the material up in the MPEP. Give yourself a final review for the last week.

No matter how you want to spread it out, it’s really important to write specific activities down, set deadlines, and stick to your plan. Otherwise, you may drag your preparations out for many more months than you intended, possibly years.

Setting yourself up for success on the Patent Bar is crucial for gaining your registration as a Patent Agent or Patent Attorney. It’s the goal of this article and others on this site to help you confidently prepare for and pass the exam.

Patent Bar Exam Study Planners

calendar-3-400Pass the Patent Bar on Your Terms

The PES-System was created to help you pass the Patent Bar Exam in a much shorter  amount of time and with less frustration than if you attempt it on your  own.

Save your time and  concentrate your efforts on more important things like finding a job.

Having a clear study plan is crucial to your success with the Patent Bar. The last thing you want is to waste time wondering what to do next. So in addition to our structured program, we’ve also put together detailed study plans for you.

All you need to do is pick the plan that best fits your schedule. We offer a 4 week, 8 week, 3 month, 6 month, 9 month, and 12 month plan. The sooner you’ll be taking the exam, the more time you’ll need to dedicate toward studying.

These carefully created study plans include  breaks  and  days off. We’ve been helping people pass the Patent Bar exam since 2001, so these plans are well thought out.

Having a study plan gives you a sense of direction and organization. It also sets targets and priorities. Check out the sample study plans below. The full study plans are included with your enrollment in the Complete Patent Bar Package.

3 – Month Patent Bar Study Plan

Requirements:
  • 12 weeks
  • 4 to 5 days per week
  • 10 to 25 hours of weekly study

Although the 3-month study plan is an accelerated plan, you’ll still have breaks every week (at least 2 days off). You can use the short breaks to recharge or to catch up if you fall behind.

You will need to commit to 4 to 5 days per week,  each and every week during the 12 week period. You’ll also need to commit to between 10 and 25 hours of study time per week.   You may need more or less depending on how quickly you can move through the material while still retaining it.

This fast-paced schedule will allow you to prepare for and pass the exam during summer break if you’re in school or while you’re looking for a job.   With this accelerated study schedule, you’ll only need to retain the information over a short length of time and can get started in your career as quickly as possible.

Here are a couple of example weeks from the 3-month study plan:

plan-3-month-week1

plan-3-month-week46 – Month Patent Bar Study Plan

Requirements:
  • 24 weeks
  • 3 to 4 days per week
  • 5 to 15 hours of weekly study

The 6-month study plan allows you to focus on the Patent Bar exam while sticking to your regular routine.  It’s perfect for those in school or with a  work schedule that allows room for between 5 and 15 hours of study per week.  The plan requires you to study 3 to 4 days a week, so there’s still plenty of days off.

The prep time is short enough that you’ll only need to retain the information over a fairly short amount of time.  We’ve scheduled in just slightly more than a week’s worth of final review to make sure you recall the important information on test day.

Here are two example weeks from the 6-month study plan:

plan-6-month-1

plan-6-month-2

9 – Month Patent Bar Study Plan

Requirements:
  • 36 weeks
  • Usually 3 (sometimes 4) days per week
  • 4 to 10 hours of weekly study

The 9-month study plan allows you to balance your study time with your busy schedule.  We estimate a time commitment of between 4 to  10 hours of study time per week. You may need more or less depending on how quickly you move through the material while still retaining it.

You’ll typically need 3, sometimes  4 days per week to prepare using this plan. We’ve scheduled in a week break after you complete each step of the program.   There is a 3-week final review to make sure you can recall the material on test day.

The following are 3 sample weeks from the 9-month study plan:

plan-9-1

plan-9-2

plan-9-3

12 – Month Patent Bar  Study Plan

Requirements:
  • 52 weeks
  • Usually 2 (sometimes 3) days per week
  • 3 to 6 hours of weekly study

The 12-month study plan allows you to prepare for and pass the Patent Bar exam at a convenient pace. This study schedule is perfect for those working a full-time job who may also have family and social commitments.

With this plan you’ll get 2-week breaks after you complete each major step.  This study plan is perfect for those who can commit to 2 or 3 days of quick study a week  (we’ve tried to keep it to 2 days a week during most weeks).

You’ll need about 3 to 6 hours of study time each week. So the tasks are kept as short as possible. You may need more or  less time depending on how quickly you move through the material while still retaining it. We’ve scheduled in a 4-week final review to make sure you can recall the important information on test day.

Here are 4 sample weeks from the 12-month study plan:

plan-12-1

plan-12-2

plan-12-3plan-12-4

We’ve recently created two new study plans. These are the 4-week and 8-week study plans. These plans obviously require more time per week and are briefly outlined below.

4 – Week Study Plan

Requirements:
  • 4 weeks
  • 7 days per week
  • 30 to 50+ hours of weekly study

Unfortunately, with only 4-weeks to study, you will need to move through everything faster. It’s probable that you will have to skim through chapters without taking as many notes and focus on the quizzes. However, just by searching for the answers to the quizzes you will learn the material and where it is located within the MPEP for exam day look-up. You should spend as much time as possible on the most heavily tested chapters and topics as shown by our 5-star rating system (found within the course).  In addition, make sure to spend the most time on the PatExam Engine™ topic exams that are the most heavily tested.

This plan is only recommended for those that really have no choice but to take the exam within 4-weeks (i.e. the 90-day window is fast approaching and you must take the exam within 4 weeks time).  While we have had people with no prior patent law knowledge pass the exam with only 4 weeks of preparations, it is difficult and they studied full-time during that time period.

8 – Week Study Plan

Requirements:
  • 8 weeks
  • 5 to 6 days per week
  • 20 to 35 hours of weekly study

While this study plan does allow you a couple of day breaks throughout the week, it is an intensive plan and will require a major commitment from you.  We have many clients who must take the exam within 2 months (or 8 weeks) due to the 90-day window for scheduling the exam and existing conflicts. If you’ve already applied for the exam and have been accepted it’s best to give yourself the full 90-days for studying and use our 3-month study plan if possible.  However, this plan is available for those who need it. We’ve seen many dedicated people pass the Patent Bar with only a 2 month study period.

Custom Plans

It’s also possible to pass the exam in a much shorter or longer amount of time. We offer our in-depth plans free of charge to those who enroll in our Complete Patent Bar Package.

Alternately, if you need a custom plan, we can help you with that too. The custom plans will not be as detailed, but we will give you a list of activities to have completed by specific dates (based on the estimated test date you supply us with).

We’ve had people pass the exam in as little as 1 month and we’ve had people spread out the coursework over more than a year. How much time you spend preparing is entirely up to you.

13 Simple Memorization Tips That’ll Help You Pass the Patent Bar Exam

Let’s face it: there’s a lot of material you’re going to have to memorize in order to pass the Patent Bar exam. Even if you cut out the extraneous material and focus on what’s most likely to be tested, you’ll soon find out there are countless dates and facts you’ve got to know cold.

In addition, you’ll have to memorize statutes and rules as well as MPEP sections and subsections. These often only have an arbitrary relationship to the concepts they brand.  In these cases, memorization is the only choice.

Just to be clear, memorization is your ability to commit specific facts or information to memory and retrieve them without too much effort.

According to OneClass.com we are more likely to remember information that is engaging, colorful, vivid and active. Read more

Hunter A. Horton, Intellectual Property Attorney at Erise IP

Hunter is an Intellectual Property attorney. He clerked for two and a half years at Erise IP, P.A. during law school prior to starting full-time and is approaching the end of his third full year full-time. In total,  Hunter has spent approximately five and a half years in the IP law profession. The following is his Q & A interview.

How did you get into a career in IP law?

My inspiration for a career in IP law goes back to my sophomore year at the Missouri University of Science and Technology while seeking my Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering. I was a new member of Omega Chi Epsilon, the Chemical Engineering Honor Society. This society focused on expanding its member’s networking opportunities and enlarging the scope of possibilities for future career paths.

In this vein, high-profile speakers were routinely brought in to share their career experiences and to answer questions on the transition from education to employment. A specific speaker that caught my attention was a patent attorney employed at a large law firm in St. Louis, Missouri. At that point, I had never considered law school as a potential path after engineering. The interconnection between the two seemed foreign to me, but I was intrigued.

The speaker detailed the facets of an IP career—including constant exposure to new innovation and cutting-edge disciplines and the ability to work the front lines of technological advancements, global brands, etc. By that point, I was hooked. After the presentation, I pulled the speaker aside to gauge the steps it would take to reach my new goal. Later that week, I began researching law schools and nearby cities with a spur of innovation (and thus a need for IP protection). I locked in Kansas City, Missouri, and St. Louis, Missouri as the two most viable nearby candidates and started working toward my goal.

Why did you think this would be a good career for you?

IP law represented the growth of intellectual advancement, which is at the core of any young engineer. I knew the constant evolution of creative ideas in a diverse range of industries would continue to keep me engaged in my endeavors. Additionally, I wanted to fully utilize the interpersonal skills developed during academia to counsel clients on high-technology matters and protect intellectual capital.

What are the top 3 things you really like about working in IP law?

The benefits of a career in intellectual property are many. The top three, in my personal experience, are as follows:

  1. On a day-to-day basis, analyzing a variety of technically complex projects to make each day new and exciting;
  2. On a project-by-project basis, diving deep into a single technology within a large, general field to become an “expert” on that invention; and
  3. The ability to do both of the above while maintaining, most of the time, a great work-life balance.

What is one thing you dislike (or that may stress you out) about the work?

The largest stressor, in my opinion, is the times when the scale of the work-life balance tips largely the other way. Every career involves what I like to term the “tax season,” where hours worked may dwarf leisure. However, these instances in IP are more infrequent than many other legal professions and, as discussed above, the time spent at work is fulfilling and rewarding.

Do you feel like there are advancement opportunities?

Yes, the legal profession provides clear and structured advancement opportunities. For example, as an associate, one goal is progression to partnership. However, advancement opportunities do not end there. As a partner, you are responsible for your own advancement. You control how to grow your practice and how to develop the firm as a whole. The dichotomy between self-advancement and firm-advancement provides endless opportunities to push forward.

Do you have any tips for people who are looking for their first job in the field?

A few of the most important things to keep in mind when looking for a first job in the IP field are to:

  1. Pick a firm with a diverse client roster. This allows you to move between the many sub-types of IP to find what calls to you;
  2. In line with the previous tip, try not to narrow your career scope too early. There will be plenty of time to specialize later after you have developed your skills at different areas of IP law; and
  3. Do not be afraid to make calls and ask questions before picking a firm. Take a practicing attorney to coffee to discuss the firm culture and what the day-to-day is like. You want to be sure your values match the values of where you will be. Remember, there are times where you will spend more time with your work family than your family at home. So, you want to be sure the environment suits what you are looking for in a career.

Please include any further comments you would like to share that may be helpful for an individual thinking about starting a career in IP law …

My final comment to anyone looking at a career in IP law would be to never stop improving your knowledge and skillset. IP law evolves quickly, and it is imperative to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the shifting market trends. Pay attention to how policy shapes the law and this will keep you at the forefront of your field.

Adam L.K. Philipp, Founding Member of Aeon Law

Adam is a Founding Member of Aeon Law, an Intellectual Property law firm. Adam has worked in the IP law profession for the last 25 years. The following is his Q & A interview.

Why did you think this would be a good career for you?

IP law is one of the most positive forms of law practice. Many lawyers see their clients during the worst periods of their lives. IP attorneys get to help creators unleash their genius and bring their creations into the world.

What are the top 3 things you really like about working in IP law?

Working with cutting edge technologies. Helping creators. Working with smart geeky fellow attorneys.

What is one thing you dislike (or that may stress you out) about the work?

People underestimate how challenging it is to get good IP protection.

Do you feel like there are advancement opportunities?

Yes, IP attorneys are often highly valued members of firms and/or companies.

Do you have any tips for people who are looking for their first job in the field?

    1. Get a good technology/science (STEM) education.
    2. Become a great persuasive writer

If you own an IP law firm please share with us your story on how you went from being employed in the field to starting your own firm.

I realized I was a rainmaker and could bring in my own clients. So I took the clients I had and started my own firm and continued to bring in new clients.

Please include any further comments you would like to share that may be helpful for an individual thinking about starting a career in IP law …

Legal writing skills are the #1 skill I look for in new hires. Practice, practice, practice.

Clifford Thomas Brazen, Patent Attorney at Erise IP

Clifford is a Patent Attorney who has been working in the IP profession since September 2014. From September 2014 until May 2016 Clifford was working on the patent prosecution side of patent law. In May 2016, Clifford moved to his current position at Erise IP, focusing on IP litigation. The following is his Q & A interview.

How did you get into a career in IP law?

I went to college to study engineering because I was great at math and science in high school. Toward the end of my sophomore year, I realized that an engineering career was not for me. Both of my parents were lawyers, so I decided to take an introduction to law class just to learn more about their professions and ended up really enjoying it. Pretty shortly thereafter I decided on law school. At first, because I knew I did not want to be an engineer, I kept my options open and was not committed to IP law from the start. But pretty quickly I learned that IP law let me get the best of both worlds.

While I did not want a career in engineering, I still enjoyed learning about science and engineering. IP law gave me the chance to think and act like a lawyer, but in subject matter areas I still really enjoyed it. On top of that, having the engineering background not only gave me a leg up when competing for jobs, but it also gave me the foundation I needed to make the day to day learning of complex subject matter much simpler.

What are the top 3 things you really like about working in IP law?

Getting to learn about different technologies across many different fields; getting to work on not just hard IP (e.g., patents), but also getting to work on cases involving soft IP (e.g., copyright, trademark, trade secret); getting to focus on, and become a specialist in, a very particular field of law.

What is one thing you dislike (or that may stress you out) about the work?

While the exposure to different technologies across different fields is one of the pluses of the field, sometimes a case will involve a complex technology I’ve had no exposure to. This can be stressful at the start, but ultimately it’s gratifying to put in the work, learn the subject matter, and ultimately get to the point where you can explain the complicated technology to the Court or laypeople.

Do you feel like there are advancement opportunities?

Absolutely. While my experience is somewhat limited having only worked in smaller, boutique-style firms, advancement opportunities have always been available to me.

Do you have any tips for people who are looking for their first job in the field?

While it can be appealing to just apply for and take the highest paying job opportunities out there, I would also encourage you to really try to learn about a firm or company’s culture and whether you’ll be a good fit there. While money is important, you will be spending a lot of time with your coworkers. For me, it was important that I really enjoyed the people I worked with and that I fit in with the culture. Doing that has definitely had a positive benefit on my mental health and helped me avoid attorney burnout.

Ted D. Karr, IP Attorney & Partner at Berkeley Law & Technology Group LLP

Ted is an IP attorney and partner at Berkeley Law & Technology Group LLP, headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

He has worked in the field of intellectual property law since 2001.

The following is his Q & A interview.

How did you get into a career in IP law?

My first job out of law school was with Intel Corporation. I was assigned to the intellectual property group.

Why did you think this would be a good career for you?

I also have a business background and MBA and the IP team works closely with the business team.

What are the top 3 things you really like about working in IP law?

  • Helping companies align their IP strategy with their business strategy.
  • Seeing new ideas and cutting edge innovation.
  • I also enjoy the fact that IP law often involves an international perspective.

Do you feel like there are advancement opportunities?

Yes, IP law offers a lot of opportunities for advancement given its complexity.

Do you have any tips for people who are looking for their first job in the field?

You could start in a corporation like I did or you could start out at a law firm. Either approach can be rewarding.

I joined a firm after being in the field for a few years. I became a partner a couple of years after joining the firm.

Share with us your story of the path you took to become a partner.

I worked for Intel Corporation for five years. I was then recruited to join a law firm. After 2 years I became a partner at the firm.

Covid-19 and the Patent Bar

Covid-19 has caused enormous stress and trauma to our society and unfortunately, the strain doesn’t seem like it will end in 2020. I very much hoping that things will start to look up in 2021, but depending on when in 2021, it could still be a while. So I’d like to talk briefly about the impact Covid-19 has had on the Patent Bar exam.

For starters, the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) has extended out the scheduling window to 180 days. This used to be only 90-days. But now, once you send in your application and are accepted to take the exam, you will have 180 days within which to take it. This is temporary so we haven’t changed this anywhere on our site. We expect the OED will post a notice on their site and let us know when they plan to move it back to the original 90-days.

As far as scheduling your exam, that happens with Prometric and you can have delays depending on which Prometric center you are planning to sit for the exam at. Prometric does have a Covid-19 update page where you can see the latest information on how the pandemic is impacting testing at their locations. You can also check their open sites list which displays the sites that are currently open.

They also offer a closed site list so you can see which facilities are closed and get an estimated date as to when they will open. The USPTO will hopefully work with Prometric and allow you to have longer for scheduling your test date depending on where you are located.

Lastly, some of the Prometric testing centers are only open for essentially testing. The Patent Bar is not considered an essential test.

The Prometric site also includes procedures for arrival and check-in. They do require you to wear a mask (one without valves) the entire time at the test center. They also ask that you do not take the test if you have been diagnosed or exposed to someone with Covid-19 within the past 14-days, have traveled from a highly infected area in the past 14-days, or you are experiencing flu or cold-like symptoms.

The main thing to consider is that while none of this is ideal, you can still take the Patent Bar exam and put this exam behind you. Completing this during the pandemic will be a major accomplishment. We’ve already had several clients pass this year and hope to hear from more. It’s not as seamless as in the past (nothing is right now), but if starting a career in patent law is a goal of yours, it will be well worth the extra efforts you put in.  There’s no reason to wait!