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!