Differences Between MPEP 08.2017 and MPEP 10.2019

You’ve likely already seen that the patent bar exam underwent an update after October 13, 2021 and you may be wondering what the differences are now that the exam is updated.

The main change is that the tested version of the MPEP will now be the MPEP, Ninth Edition, Revision 10.2019.

All the supplements are the same, only the revision of the MPEP has changed.

The MPEP is updated about once every year or two years so it’s something that happens all the time (at least from our viewpoint, since we’ve been offering patent bar study materials for the last 2 decades).

Fortunately, with this particular update, the MPEP didn’t change drastically.

We know because we started adding in the new version in our course in June. Clients could choose whether they were taking the exam pre- or post- October 13 since June of this year. We spent months during the spring of this year literally pouring over this new revision of the MPEP for you.

There were no new chapters added to the MPEP. So it still starts with chapter 100, which covers Secrecy, Access, National Security, and Foreign Filing and it still ends at chapter 2900, which covers International Design Applications.

In fact, all the chapters are essentially the same. However, many of the topics covered in chapter 700, which is titled Examination of Applications were removed (and some were placed into chapter 2100 which covers Patentability) and vice versa.

So if you started studying prior to the update, you’ll want to go back into those two chapters (700 and 2100) and make sure you know where the material is located.

These are two very important chapters that are tested on the exam to a high degree, so it’s very important to locate those changes. If you just started studying then these changes won’t really impact you at all.

Then there are also a number of clarifications. The writers of the MPEP usually add in hundreds of clarifications during an MPEP update. That’s because the laws and rules are often written in a vague enough manner that they need to be clarified once they’re taken action on in the real world. That doesn’t mean much of the material has changed, just that it’s been clarified.

They do also insert in guides and papers and sometimes actually change laws and rules (however, this is done on a minimal level).

The change from MPEP Revision 08.2017 to 10.2019 was not a major update as far as updates go. But it is important to study from the currently tested material. That way you have the best chance of passing the exam.

The PES patent bar review is completely updated to make your preparations easier. Start preparing for the exam now and rest assured you’re studying with the most current material by using PES.

Patent Bar Updates on Source Materials Starting October 13th, 2021

The USPTO is changing the source materials the patent bar exam is covering starting October 13, 2021. Our course includes the newest updates.

The patent bar exam will start covering the MPEP, Ninth Edition, Revision 10.2019, Last Revised June 2020. In addition to incorporating questions from the latest revision of the MPEP, the exam also covers the following supplements:

  • Inter Partes, Post Grant, and Covered Business Method Review Final Rules
  • Derivation Proceeding Final Rules
  • Changes to Representation of Others Before the USPTO Final Rules
  • Implementation of the Global and IP5 Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) Pilot Programs with Participating Offices
  • Changes to the Claim Construction Standard for Interpreting Claims in Trial Proceedings Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board Final Rules
  • Amendments to the Rules of Practice for Trials Before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board

These supplements have all been tested on the exam for the last several years. Much of the material is the same. There were no changes to the supplements. The updates only include a change to the version of the MPEP.

We offer clients the option to study with the materials that are right for them. That means we offer both pre- and post- October 13, 2021 materials within the course. So if you plan to take the exam before the October 13 changes, then you will study from the MPEP, Ninth Edition, Revision 08.2017. If you plan to take the exam after the October 13 changes, then you will study from the MPEP, Ninth Edition, Revision 10.2019.

It’s actually very simply laid out in the course. Anywhere with updated quizzes and exams is also very easy to follow. That way you can customize what you’re learning based on when you take the exam.

Do also keep in mind that the patent bar exam must offer any new questions as beta questions. Therefore any new material from the new MPEP will likely be a beta question for potentially several months. That means it’s not factored into your score.

Get started studying today and put the patent bar exam behind you!

How Rote Memorization Helps with the Patent Bar Exam

The patent bar exam is a challenging obstacle for anyone aspiring to be a patent attorney. According to the General Requirements Bulletin of the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED), the exam tests applicants’ knowledge of patent laws, rules, and procedures. Their ability to analyze them such that they can advise and assist patent applicants. Therefore, an applicant must possess knowledge of the USPTO rules of practice under the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP) and other published USPTO policies and procedures.

Considering the extent of information an applicant needs to grasp, many have to resort to rote memorization to pass the exam. Here we will look at what it is and how this technique can help such applicants.

Rote memorization

Repetition is at the core of rote memorization. One can use this technique to repeat information such as facts, meanings, and dates to cement them in their memory. It takes time, but it forms the basis of foundational knowledge one may need to pass the patent bar exam. In the long run, it may not be as effective compared to meaningful learning, but many students may have to rely on it, considering they do not have degrees in law when applying for it.


The exam is structured in two sections, with each having 50 multiple-choice questions. 3 hours are allocated per section. This may seem like enough time to answer all of the questions. However, they can span from anywhere in the MPEP and other USPTO reference materials and are generally lengthy questions that require a subtle understanding of the context in which they are presented.

Students have the advantage of referencing an electronic copy of the MPEP during the exam, but it may take time to search all of it. Here is when rote memorization comes in handy. Instead of learning each fact or precedent by heart, applicants can memorize where the information is in the MPEP. During the test, they can refer to that section if need be.

Past exams

Unlike other exams, many source material for the patent bar exam comes from past exams. A good strategy would be to find as many of these past exams as possible and practice the rote memorization searching technique explained above. It will further strengthen your grasp over the material, and muscle memory will help you deal with these questions in the exam quickly, leaving more time to focus on more challenging problems.

The problem with the patent bar exam is that there is no central theme to it. It’s just thousands of pages of details that ultimately represent arbitrary rules. If a person does not have good memory skills, they should explore different memorization techniques along with rote memorization to have a better chance of passing.

Essential Note-Taking Methods

Most students don’t have trouble revising what they learned in class simply because their note-taking methods were less than satisfactory. Making notes is an essential skill that one must possess to summarize what they learned in an organized and systematic fashion. Additionally, it helps to unravel critical concepts that one knew and make it easier for them to revise them later.

Professionals can also benefit from an effective note-taking method, especially in meetings or interviews. As we will learn, there’s more to it than just writing down whatever you hear.

Cornell method

This method is all about format and structure. The page is divided into 3 or 4 sections. The actual note-taking area is the largest part covering 70% of the page vertically, while another keywords or cues section runs along with it, covering the rest of the 30%. Additionally, one can leave a few lines at the bottom for a summary.

Outline method

The outline method relies heavily on headings and sub-headings for the organization of the material being written down. Each header or sub-heading outlines a core concept, and additional points underneath help explain the matter’s crux. The headings, sub-headings, and facts can be indented and bulleted or numbered to highlight what they stand for, further increasing their readability and organization.

Mapping method

The mapping method looks like a flowchart and is useful in representing information visually. Here, shapes are used to describe main ideas and points linked together to form a sort of map of the thing being discussed.

Charting method

Like the mapping method, the charting method employs a similar visual strategy for taking notes. Here, a table is used rather than a flowchart. Each heading and sub-heading is organized in a row or column. This is particularly useful when comparing two or more themes or containing numerical data, just like in a spreadsheet.

Each of these methods is not useful for every situation. It is recommended to apply a few of these methods together for an even more effective note-taking system. Some of them also require preparation before the actual note-taking process, and you may run out of space. For instance, the Cornell and outline methods may be useful when taking notes during long lectures or the mapping or charting methods when brainstorming with your peers.

Supplementary tips

Besides the methods mentioned above, one can also use secondary techniques to beautify their notes. Some tips include:

  • Color coding to highlight important texts.
  • Forming a legend to signify what a particular color means.
  • Using abbreviations and acronyms for commonly used terms.
  • Using symbols for commonly used words.
  • Using block letters when writing.
  • Using phrases instead of full sentences.

All of these note-taking methods, when used effectively, can make your studies more comfortable and save you some time while revising. Aesthetic, concise, and well-organized information is easier to understand and an essential tool for any student.

Transitioning From Engineering to a Career as a Patent Agent

Are you an engineer contemplating a career change? If so, you may want to consider a career in patent law, specifically, becoming a patent agent or even a patent attorney. Patent agents and patent attorneys help clients navigate the patent process, so they can acquire a patent on their invention.

A glance at the salary data reveals that a career as a patent agent, which does not require a law degree, pays more than jobs in most engineering fields. The median salary for a patent agent is right around $100K, while the median mechanical engineering salary is $71K. Obviously, that’s a big difference in salary (approximately $29K more per year for a patent agent).

Patent law is the ideal field for someone in engineering to move into.

For one, the experience you’ve already accumulated by receiving an undergraduate degree in a qualifying field, of which engineering is one, means you are a good candidate. Your hard-earned degree will be useful. And, most likely, the only new credential you’ll need to acquire in your move from engineering to becoming a patent agent is a passing score on the patent bar exam.

You do not need to obtain a law degree to work as a patent agent. However, going to law school and passing the bar exam leads to an even more lucrative career as a patent attorney.

Patent attorneys typically earn more than $133K a year, while the median salary for careers in engineering does not pay anything comparable to that amount unless you are an experienced petroleum engineer. If so, you may earn that much, but with experience in that specific engineering field, you may clear well over the median salary of $133K a year for patent attorneys and possibly earn even more.

The following list includes current Payscale.com salary data so you can review and compare average engineer salaries against those typically earned by patent practitioners:
  • Patent Agent – $100,526
  • Patent Attorney – $138,423
  • Aerospace Engineer – $85,047
  • Agricultural Engineer – $66,766
  • Biomedical Engineer – $67,788
  • Chemical Engineer – $75,938
  • Civil Engineer – $67,671
  • Design Engineer – $68,861
  • Electrical Engineer – $77,066
  • Electronics Engineer – $80,037
  • Environmental Engineer – $66,455
  • Industrial Engineer – $69,003
  • Manufacturing Engineer – $70,872
  • Mechanical Engineer – $71,803
  • Nuclear Engineer – $88,187
  • Petroleum Engineer – $101,086
  • Project Engineer – $69,933
  • Software Engineer – $87,293
  • Structural Engineer – $70,301

Patent Agent Job Description: Typical Work Environment

As an engineer, your day-to-day activities probably include both working with your hands and on a computer. You may also attend meetings and communicate with members of your team or, at minimum, members of management.

As a patent agent, you will not have much, if any, the opportunity to work with your hands. You will spend most of your day drafting patent applications and overcoming rejections to help your clients get their inventions patented. You will also spend time communicating with others in your office (whether it’s a law firm office or a patent department at a company or university). In addition, you will need to communicate directly with the inventor of those inventions for which you are actively trying to acquire a patent. These can be individual inventors or a group at a company, which may be an engineering company similar to the one where you currently work, or at a university.

So, if you are currently performing hands-on work and enjoy that aspect of your engineering job, you may want to consider how important that facet of your profession is to your overall job satisfaction. You may be tired of the engineering life and be ready to move into something else, even if it means giving up hands-on work altogether.

In addition, instead of actively working at innovating and creating new products, you will be helping others to protect their innovations. In theory, as a patent agent, you can likely help protect many more inventions than you probably ever would as an inventor or engineer.

You’ll also have the opportunity to be on the cusp of innovation and creativity in your chosen field.

The Patent Bar Exam

The patent bar exam is a 100-question, six-hour, multiple-choice exam. It covers details from the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (or MPEP), which outlines all aspects of patent law. In addition, depending upon when you take it, you also may need to review official USPTO supplemental material to prepare for it. This typically occurs when the United States Patent and Trademark Office has introduced new guidelines that haven’t yet been incorporated into the MPEP.

When you take the exam, you will have access to the MPEP and the tested supplements, which means the test is essentially an “open-book” exam. But the MPEP contains thousands of pages along with supplemental material, and its search function is very limited.

Therefore, to stand any chance of benefiting from the open-book aspect of the exam, you’ll need to know the location of the topics in the MPEP most likely to appear on the test. Additionally, you’ll need to know many facts from the MPEP. Since the test is timed, you will not have the opportunity to look up the answers for each and every question. Not only will you need to study and learn many facts before you take the exam, but you also must know the location of that information. Knowing the most likely tested portions of the MPEP that contain the answers to the questions and how to retrieve them quickly will enable you to complete the exam within the time constraints.

The best way to describe this exam and the preparations required to take it is to think of it as if it were a final for a difficult two-semester college-level course. It takes many people a full year to prepare for this exam. That said, some people can know nothing about patent law prior to the exam, study intensely for as little as one month, and still manage to pass. However, most people spend somewhere between three to six months preparing for the exam. Typically, people who pass have spent 150+ hours studying.

The exam does not comprise information you can review lightly and expect to pass. The material is difficult, as are the exam questions. But if you compare even the six months of study typically necessary to pass the patent bar to the four years it takes to earn a college degree, it’s well worth it. Taking the exam appears especially attractive when you consider that it gives you the opportunity to obtain employment in an entirely new career field that likely pays more than your current position.

Job Market: Patent Agent Salary & Job Outlook

When you research patent agent job openings, you will notice that many hiring managers request that candidates have two years of experience in the patent field. However, since almost all employers in any field prefer candidates with experience, don’t let your lack of experience present a deterrent. Applying for these positions is a worthwhile endeavor, along with any others you find.

Patent agent job seekers find employment under a variety of different scenarios. For example, many former engineers obtain employment immediately after passing the patent bar exam; some even acquire an entry-level position before they have begun to prepare for the test. In fact, it’s possible to transition directly from an engineering position to passing the patent bar exam to gaining immediate employment as a patent agent. However, if you follow this path, you should expect your salary to be less than the median salary of $92K for patent agents. Some who take the patent law exam find employment with a company willing to train them and are hired quickly, even if they have never drafted a patent application before.

However, don’t expect to acquire a position immediately at a prestigious law firm. Unless you are in a highly-in-demand particular niche of engineering for a specific firm, you’re not going to stand out as a newly minted patent agent with no experience in drafting patents. Therefore, you’ll have to take any starting position that’s feasible, which means a lower beginning salary in exchange for the necessary experience.

You might need to first work at a technology transfer office (TTO) instead of a law firm. A technology transfer office is typically housed on a college campus or within a government organization. TTOs focus on discovering research that potentially has commercial value. Some TTOs, such as those on Ivy League campuses, are both highly prestigious and exceedingly competitive. Others may be willing to hire candidates with little experience. In addition, you can take a patent prosecution and/or claim drafting course or seminar. Some of these courses will even help you find employment in patent law.

Moreover, once you gain experience and your first patent agent position, you can always decide to go to law school later to become a patent attorney. You may even find a position as a patent agent at a firm that will be supportive of your attending law school while you’re working. The truly fortunate find a law firm that helps pay their way through law school.

Patent law is an ideal career change for many engineers. Find out if it’s right for you!

How Hard Is Law School?

How Hard Is Law School?How hard is law school, really? This is the question many prospective students ask themselves before ever studying for the LSAT or ever visiting a law school campus. For some, the answer to this question may determine whether attending a law school is the right choice. For others, the question is meant to assess the amount of study and work needed to achieve good grades that will lead to a successful legal career.

Perhaps the simplest answer to this question, despite being surface level in nature, is revealed by a look at the available data.

What the Data Says (And Doesn’t Say) About Law School Difficulty

A Los Angeles Times report, for example, found that nearly nine in 10 students drop out of unaccredited California law schools before they graduate. That said, unaccredited law schools tend to serve students who work full-time jobs while attending law school or who are less qualified for accredited ABA schools. Simply, the high dropout rates at unaccredited law schools are not reflective of the average law school difficulty for the average law school student.

Despite this fact, the ABA has compiled data from 1981-2020 concerning law student attrition. Each year, thousands of students drop out, and 2020 — the most recent year on record — saw more than 6,000 students drop out nationwide. Beyond this data, anyone who has attended such a law school will be the first to tell you dropouts are far from uncommon. Don’t assume, however, that students are dropping out due to the difficulty, necessarily. There are a wide range of reasons why a law school student might choose to drop out, such as:

  • Getting poor or just okay grades
  • The high cost of tuition
  • Deciding they don’t want to be a lawyer after all
  • The student attended law school on a full scholarship, freeing them to pursue other careers if law school was worse than they expected

The reasons for dropping out are simply too diverse and dependent on the individual student’s circumstances to pin dropout rates on law school difficulty. Instead of looking purely at dropout rates, a more instructive exercise is to look at precisely what many students find to be difficult during their time in law school.

Law School Demands Organization and Time Management

One of the most difficult aspects of law school for many students is how much reading is required. In every 1L course, professors will expect you to read several cases quickly, preparing you for the next class discussion.

If you have not read those courses, it can lead to embarrassment when the professor “cold calls” you and asks you to explain the case to the rest of the class. Beyond embarrassment, which can be difficult in its own right, failing to read the material puts you behind the curve.

Do this in one or more courses, and you are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to taking notes and comprehending the material that will likely relate to the final exam in some way.

If a law student does not master their time while remaining well-organized, law school will seem much more difficult than it needs to be. Students who manage the heavy workload and do all the reading, law school will be far less difficult compared to the students who fall behind in the reading.

Law School Challenges Your Self-Perception

The high-pressure environment and fast learning pace of law school challenges the best of law school students. Get cold called and embarrass yourself as you stumble over the case, and it is difficult to not feel the embarrassment or lack of self-confidence begin to creep into your psyche.

Law school often seems hard because it makes students feel stupid or less than adequate on a regular basis. Make sure you don’t fall prey to this mentality. You are simply grappling with the law as a 1L student who is learning like everyone else.

Try not to compare yourself to the student who always seems to have the perfect answer on cold calls or when volunteering an answer. They will have their moment of looking silly, rest assured, and the so-called “genius” in your section may not write articulately when the final exam rolls around.

The simplest advice is to stay in your lane and focus on improving your knowledge as a law student. That is the only thing you can control, after all, so remind yourself that being wrong regularly is simply part and parcel of becoming a knowledgeable law student and future lawyer. Keeping a positive mindset is generally one of the best ways to demystify law school and take away much of its difficulty.

Heard of the Curve? If Not, Ask a Law Student

Before law school, it is unlikely you were graded on a curve during your undergraduate studies. The word curve is perhaps the most hated word for the 1L law school student.

Students in law school are graded on a bell curve, meaning that getting a good grade is not dependent on writing a competent final exam. Nearly every student will write a competent exam at the very least, but that only compounds the difficulty with a curve-based grading system.

Law school students are graded based on performance relative to their peers. In essence, law students are competing with one another, which is what breeds the intensely competitive law school environment.

The reality of this grading system is that failing to work as hard as your peers means you are likely to be outperformed when final grades are revealed. This, in turn, negatively affects your ability to find a good job on the basis of your grades. This fact alone has caused many a 1L to drop out after the first semester of first year grades are finalized.

While the curve is arguably the defining aspect that makes law school more difficult than any schooling you have had previously, it is far from insurmountable.

Why Law School Is Not That Difficult

Like most things in life, law school is what you make of it. One of the most important things you can do — aside from your own time management and diligent studying — is surrounding yourself with good people.

1L is difficult, but the internships during the summer and the clinics you will take on as the years roll by are no picnic, either. Having friends who will be your allies when it comes time to form a study group, socialize or de-stress will be the best decision you make. And, once you graduate, these same friends you took time to go out to the bar with during bar review will become an integral part of your network.

The bottom line is difficult things become markedly less so when you take the journey with good people. Combine a good network with your own natural curiosity for the law and hard work, and you are well on your way towards removing much of law school’s inherent difficulty.

Sure, the finals cram will never be a breeze, but you may even come to enjoy the camaraderie of a late night study session with peers. When you have been struggling to master a legal concept all semester, having the “Eureka!” moment just days before the exam is incredibly satisfying if you love learning the law.

All told, law school is difficult. There is no way of getting around that. Knowing law school is difficult is at least half the battle, however. Armed with the information presented here, you can prepare for the worst and make the entire law school experience easier for yourself. In the end, you might just find that the law school experience was, for all its difficulties, a rather enjoyable experience.


David Farber is a 2015 law school graduate from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City. He enjoys writing about the law and giving practical, actionable advice to prospective and current law school students.

Top Benefits of Taking Patent Bar Prep Through an Online Course

Becoming a lawyer is a goal that is difficult to achieve. Besides the endless hours of study in college and law school, there’s the dreaded bar exam that sends most would-be lawyers into a state of fear and loathing. If you’re seeking a career as a patent lawyer, then you still have to master the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases or Patent Bar Exam (or patent bar) before your new job as a patent law attorney can begin.

Take an Online Patent Bar Review Course Before Testing

Whether you’re a scientist or engineer looking to become a patent agent or a law student looking forward to a lucrative career as a patent attorney, passing the patent bar exam is an absolute must before your career can begin.

The good news is that there is a lot of help out there. Taking advantage of the help often means passing the patent bar exam and get your career in patent law moving forward much faster. One of the best ways to prepare for the patent bar exam is to take an online patent bar prep course. Some of the benefits of an online patent bar prep course include:

  • Higher passing percentage than self-study
  • Increased retention of information
  • Outlines that include tested materials
  • Practice questions with reviews to evaluate strong and weak points
  • Self-paced study for better time management
  • No travel necessary

Benefits of Online Patent Bar Prep

There are over 4000 pages of information in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (or MPEP) which is what the exam covers. Attempts at passing the bar exam through self-study of the MPEP often fail due to the massive amounts of information the manual contains. While self-study may be the most economical way to prepare for the patent bar, it is also the most difficult, time-consuming, and usually fails.

Online review courses offer the convenience of studying at your own pace with well-developed learning strategies proven to be effective. While there are other types of review courses, such as classes and seminars, approximately 50 percent of test-takers opt for an online review course to prepare for the exam.

Why E-learning is so Effective

Online learning has changed the way we teach and learn. In today’s competitive and fast-paced world, education holds the keys to success. The more and faster a person learns, the higher their chances of success and reaching their goals are. Online learning is so effective because it is mobile, self-paced, and personalized.

More Benefits of an Online Patent Bar Review Course

The patent bar exam is administered in two sessions in one day, and each session lasts three hours. The test consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that cover the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) topics on ethics, procedures, federal patent statutes, and regulations. Simply put, there’s a lot of material to review.

An online review course will help you prepare by using some of the following:

Lectures: Online lectures can be retaken and considered as many times as necessary. This is especially important when it comes to preparing for exams since many tests are often updated and revised.

24 Hour Access to Course Material: If you’re under time constraints, you can study, attend a class, or lecture or take a test to assess your skill level at any time of day.

Updated Courses and Information: As patent laws are changed, amended, and updated, the patent bar exam may change. Online courses offer updated content to keep you up to date on the information necessary to pass the exam.

In Conclusion

The best option for passing the patent bar is to choose an online review course that suits your course needs and concerns and provides the needed materials. We’ve been helping people pass the exam for over 19 years; give the Patent Education Series patent bar review a try.


Salary Ranges for Patent Agents and Patent Attorneys

salaryEveryone wants to know how much they’ll be making as a patent agent or attorney, but unfortunately, it’s a difficult question to answer.

That’s because your salary will vary due to a number of outside factors. We’ve put together a list of the factors that will help determine your exact salary along with research of the top salary sites online.

We’ve compiled all the data here for your convenience.


Salary.com has an in depth salary scale for patent attorneys where they’ve broken down the salaries and their ranges by number of years experience.

As you can see in the list below the range in pay for patent attorneys is widely varied. They show a range from $80K up to an average of $210K a year and they have records of patent attorneys reporting even more or less than those figures.

Here’s the full breakdown:

  • Patent Attorney I (JD + 0-2 years of experience) – $96,127 (average); low 49K and high 153K
  • Patent Attorney II (JD + 2-5 years of experience) – $145,476 (average); low 105K and high 227K.
  • Patent Attorney III (JD + 5-8 years of experience) – $172,294 (average); low 140K and high 228K.
  • Patent Attorney IV (JD + 8 years or more of experience) – $206,386 (average); low 170K and high 258K.
  • Top Patent Attorney (JD + 15 or more years of experience) – $258,457 (average); low 179K and high 333K.
  • Patent Agent II (Bachelors + 2-5 years of experience) – $98,375 (average); low 72K and high 137K.

Source: Salary.com

American Intellectual Property Law Association 2011 report

This report shows a much higher salary range than other resources and is probably due to the fact that many of the individuals who join the AIPLA are higher earners. They have the most use for joining an association where they can meet other patent attorneys and agents and stay on top of the changing laws and rules.

AIPLA showed that $205,000 was the average salary for all participants in the study (there were over 2500 respondents).

Further salary details from AIPLA are indicated below:

  • Private firm partner – $373,328 average per year
  • Corporate IP Attorney – $213,701 average per year
  • Corporate IP Agent – $130,000 average per year

Source: AIPLA Report


The Bureau of Labor Statistics maintains a salary database for lawyers. They do not have any records for patent agents or for patent attorneys specifically but do have general attorney/lawyer salaries.

They state they believe patent attorneys have earnings in the highest 10% of lawyers which puts them at $208K in May 2020.

Source: BLS.gov


We also visited Glassdoor.com for more information on what they believe the average salary is for patent attorneys and patent agents. Their salary research is very similar to what is posted elsewhere online.

Here are their salary figures:

  • Patent attorney – 162,865 is average.
  • Patent agent – $116,683 is average

Source: Glassdoor.com


Lastly, we visited Payscale.com. Their salary figures were very similar to Glassdoor.com and Salary.com. Here is their breakdown:

  • Patent Attorney – 125,802 (average); low 74K and high 199K.
  • Patent Agent – 90,060 (average); low 54K and high 140K.

To give you an idea of how patent agent and patent attorney salaries compare to other jobs we’ve put together this chart. We show you the average pay from Payscale.com along with job titles:

  • Patent Attorney – $138,423
  • Patent Agent – $100,526
  • Attorney/Lawyer – $86,401
  • Mechanical engineer – $71,803
  • Electrical engineer – $77,066
  • Environmental engineer – $66,455
  • Civil engineer – $67,671
  • Biochemist – $61,607
  • Research Scientist – $81,593
  • Clinical Laboratory Scientist – $66,847

As you can see, it pays to pass the Patent Bar.

The average salary for patent agents is far higher than all the other salaries we have listed here (about $20,000 to $30,000 a year higher, which can make a significant difference in your lifestyle).

The earnings differences can be even higher if you’re currently a research scientist at a non-profit or academic setting as your pay is probably significantly lower than the pay listed above. You can see your earnings double just by passing the patent bar exam and gaining employment as a patent agent.

From there if you decide to pursue your JD then you can see an even higher increase when you become a patent attorney.

Factors Influencing Your Salary

Here are the factors that will determine your salary and whether you find yourself on the high or low end of the earnings scale:


Where you work always impacts how much you’ll get paid. And that’s true no matter what career field you decide to pursue. Often individuals working in larger metropolitan areas earn more than their counterparts living in rural areas.


Your past experiences always play a role in how much you earn. If you’re just starting out in the field of patent law (whether a patent agent or attorney) then you’ll typically be on the low end of the salary scale. If you have several years of experience then naturally, you’d expect to be paid more.

In addition to your number of years of experience in patent work, your employer will likely consider how many years of employment you had in your field of study prior to becoming a registered patent practitioner. Many engineers and scientists work in their field for a number of years before taking the patent bar exam. Those years will usually help them earn more than those who do not have experience in their field of study.


The degree you have will help boost your earnings. And it’s not just whether you have a JD degree and if you’re a patent attorney, but the degree you had and the level you earned in your technical background. For example, a patent agent or attorney with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology will likely earn less than one with a Doctorate degree in Biochemistry.

And it’s not even just the level, but the specific degree and how valuable your employer finds that particular degree and your background as a whole. Patents are very technical and it’s going to be difficult if not impossible to write a solid patent application on a subject you don’t understand. So if you don’t have that background, your potential employer knows you’ll need some training (which they may be willing to give you, but you’re not going to get top dollar if that’s your situation).

Job Fit

How well do you fit what the employer is looking for? If they want someone who understands environmental inventions and your degree and background is mechanical engineering, even if you’ve somehow won them over, you may expect lower pay than someone who fit the job description better.

Differences Across Firms and Employers

Some firms pay more. They are more prestigious and hire who they feel will help them maintain their image.

In addition, it’s not just law firms that hire patent agents and attorneys.

Many areas of the government hire patent practitioners (like NASA) as well as private corporations (including many in the engineering and biotechnology sectors). They all have different rates of pay so that’s something to consider once you start looking for a job.

*Please note that we are not making any income claims. These salary ranges are only based on general research. We urge you to research salary ranges on your own taking into account your own personal factors.

How Hard is the Patent Bar?

Despite being an open book exam, the patent bar exam is one of the toughest in the country, with less than 50% passing since 2013. Many students put in additional hours post-course of study but still feel like they’re ill-prepared and nervous on exam day. Let’s look at why it may give students nightmares and discourage them from applying.


An applicant to the patent bar must show the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) that they possess the necessary scientific and technical training to help patent applicants. You can be eligible for the patent bar if you fall under one of the following categories:

Category A – Applicants have a bachelor’s degree in a technical subject listed in the OED general requirements bulletin (mostly engineering and hard sciences).

Category B – Applicants have a bachelor’s degree but are not listed in category A. Your transcript must reflect the scientific training you received in your degree as per the OED requirements.

Category C – If an applicant doesn’t fall in either category A and B, however, they can take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) test administered by a State Board of Engineering Examiners. Applicants must submit official results of the FE test to establish qualification under this category. Also, they must submit an official transcript showing the award of a Bachelor’s degree.

For more details, please see section III of the general requirements bulletin of the OED.


The book in question is the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP), which is over 3,000 pages. However, that leaves a broad area of good law for the OED to test on, such as The America Invents Act, The Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act, The Patent Prosecution Highway, and the USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct.

How do you cover all this information? Most students rely on courses to guarantee they cover everything, and the course providers also have inside knowledge that helps pass the exam. However, the time spent on preparation is a significant factor to consider.

The exam

The exam itself is divided into two 3-hour sessions of 50 multiple-choice questions on MPEP and other published USPTO policy and procedure reference materials. There is no penalty for wrong answers and 10 beta questions do not count toward the overall score. You need a 70% to pass.

You apply for the exam through the USPTO, and can take it at any point within three months from the mail date.

You may think that 3 hours are enough to answer every question. However, many questions are a page long with 5 possible answers. It is designed to test an applicant’s knowledge of applicable patent laws, rules and procedures, and the ability to analyze factual situations and subtleties in the law.

The exam is not technical and is passable if you put in the time and are serious about passing it. Follow the regime of a reputable patent bar prep program, take many practice tests, and you’ll have much better than a 50% chance of passing.

5 Study Tips for Visual Learners

As the name implies, a visual learner refers to those individuals who learn best when the information presented to them is in a visual form. They connect better to visual aids because seeing them provides a holistic view of the information, and usually struggle with remembering instructions if communicated verbally.

If you’re struggling with your studies, chances are you might be a visual learner. Let’s look at some tips on how you can improve your educational experience, study better, and not get distracted.

Watch Videos

Videos are a great way to learn if you’re a visual learner, and these days, there are multiple resources available online for you to study almost any topic you want. YouTube, Open Yale Courses, MIT Open CourseWare, and Khan Academy are just a few of the great resource libraries dedicated to education.

These mediums provide quality lectures, animations, tutorials, and demonstrations that make education smarter and accessible to more people. Additionally, videos can be paused, sped up, skipped, and rewound to study at their own pace.

Use flashcards

Flashcards are one of the oldest methods for memorization, which contain related information on both sides. They are commonly used for definitions, mnemonics, facts, and events.

Flashcards can help visual learners, especially when they make them for themselves. There are no limits for making their flashcards, but best to keep it simple, make drawings, and don’t cram too much information on them.


Most visual learners have trouble taking notes when listening to lectures in class. They often get distracted, lose track of their train of thought and start focusing elsewhere.

In this case, the best course of action is to incorporate visual note-taking techniques such as making tables, flowcharts, and color-coding to represent what they’ve heard in a more visually appealing manner. This helps them save time and leads to healthier engagement in long and boring lectures.


Information that is organized, structured and systematic is more comfortable to follow and understand. Visual learners can incorporate tools that help them manage information to their likings, such as post-its, multi-colored pens, highlighters, dual notebooks, apps, and binders. All of these tools help retain information for easy referencing when required.


Teaching is a great way to learn, not just for visual learners. It forces the teacher to retrieve the information they already possessed. It’s a way to test whether what they learned is coherent and easily understandable to others. Additionally, it encourages healthy discussion where one may see where they’re going wrong. Moreover, it promotes novel opinions and ideas and sees them from another’s perspective thereby, expanding a teacher’s views.

The majority of students born in this generation of technology are visual learners due to their increasing exposure to how more information is represented visually via electronic means. Employing techniques such as those mentioned here can help a visual learner engage and retain information better, leading to better thinking skills.