How to Connect with Your Patent Law Clients

As patent attorneys of all law firms know, it’s vitally important to get to know your client and their intellectual property professionally. In addition a strong personal connection goes a long way toward building a foundation of trust. A good attorney-client relationship is also a very effective way of turning your client into a repeat client and potentially get word-of-mouth advertising. Not sure where to start? Here are some easy things you can do to connect with patent clients and strengthen relationships.

Communicate

Every inventor wants to know where they stand in the patent application process. It’s an integral piece of the business or project that they’re trying to build. Communicating regularly through a good attorney-client relationship is key to helping them feel at ease with your work and let them know how things are progressing.

Email is a great option but try not to make all of your correspondence electronic. No one makes phone calls these days so taking the time out of your day to call and speak to them directly about the patent application process or even leave a voicemail is a nice personal touch. Even something as simple as letting them know when paperwork has been submitted lets them know that you’re on top of it and you care enough to keep them up to date.

Show Your Appreciation

Sounds pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Sometimes, along with legal advice, a simple “thank you” goes a long way in building a relationship. Again, email is fine but think about the impact of a handwritten thank you note. Whether it’s after an initial meeting or when the patent is finally issued, letting a client know that you enjoyed working with them is a small thing that can make a big difference. If they ever need another patent, you’ll be the first person they call.

Listen to Feedback

By giving clients an opportunity to tell you exactly what made them happy and what didn’t, you’ll get a better understanding of what you’re doing right and where you need to improve. Obviously, this is important for all patent attorneys because it helps you make changes that can improve your business down the line, but consider this; inventors tend to socialize and work with like-minded people. They may even work for a large company or university that frequently seeks patents. By letting clients know that you not only value their opinion and their intellectual property but are also willing to make changes based on their feedback, you gain respect and strengthen your connection. This is a great way to make more connections and bring in even more clients.

Understand Different Perspectives

Trying to identify with your client’s perspective is really important. It can be hard to remember that they’re not seeing the process the same way that you are. You’re the patent agent or patent attorney. Filing for patents is literally your job and you do it all the time. In some cases, clients have been working years if not longer to get their idea to the point where they could patent it. They don’t care about your other clients or the work you’ve done before, they care about their invention and how capable you are of helping them secure their patent. For some of these clients, a lot is riding on a patent. While it may be just another day at the office for you, it’s not for them. By empathizing with them and communicating that you understand their point of view, you’ll strengthen your connection and make them feel heard and respected.

Have Conversations

This is as applicable in patent law as it is in any other part of life, professionally or personally. Don’t lecture your clients. Don’t talk at them and don’t hit them with too much technical information at once. Instead, try to be more conversational. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you should fill meetings with idle chit-chat. You still have to get vital information across, but do make sure to pause occasionally and ask if they have any questions. Find out if they’re concerned about any part of the process or what they’re most anxious about. This is another way to help them feel like they’re being heard and that you respect them.

Be Genuine

No one wants to feel like they’re just another client in your address book. Sometimes, it’s better to just be genuine and forget about networking. By making real connections with clients, you stand out. Take the time to ask them questions and get to know them. Show them that there is real value to working with you, not just because you are a patent attorney and they are seeking a patent, but because you’re you. It’s a cliché, but it’s true that you have something to offer that no one else does. Don’t worry about trying to get more clients or networking. Instead, focus on giving your clients the best possible experience they can have. Believe it or not, making clients happy is one of the best ways to get more clients.

The Importance of Connecting

The truth is, if your client feels connected to you, the entire patent process will go much smoother for everyone involved. The more trust there is, the more you can do your job without worrying that the inventor will think what you’re doing is unnecessary. In the off-chance that there’s a glitch in the process, your client will know that you’ve done the best work you can which will take some of the pressure off.

From a business perspective, connecting with your patent law client is one of the easiest ways to grow your practice. As mentioned earlier, a lot of inventors work with other people who are working on new things and may even work for large think tanks or entities whose sole purpose is to come up with new ideas that need patents. If you make one client happy, there’s a strong likelihood that they’ll tell others how wonderful the experience was. If that’s the case, more and more potential clients will be reaching out.

There’s some truth to the idea of killing people with kindness. By listening, empathizing, and understanding, it’s much easier to make connections that benefit both you and your client.

Why Learn About Patents if You’re a Scientist?

Patent Law is a specialized legal niche that involves the protection of discoveries and new inventions. Because such inventions often involve medical breakthroughs or technologies that could propel us forward from an intellectual standpoint, only intellectuals with a scientific or engineering background are eligible to sit the patent bar exam. But why would you want to learn about patents as a scientist?

Perhaps the best way to address the topic is to learn about people who moved from a science background to a federal court. Loretta Weathers traded long days crunching data at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for high-stakes litigation. Loretta spent a few semesters at MIT in a prestigious doctoral program before abandoning the solitude of the lab to go to law school and prepare for a patent lawyer career.

Technology is a hot niche in law. As a lawyer-scientist, Ms. Weathers understood technology and could explain it to the jury. The cases are important and provide a sense of personal satisfaction, but also require a finer understanding when it comes to the bare-bones technology of it all.

In her first year as a patent lawyer, Weathers was involved in an insurance company copyright-infringement case that involved a verdict of almost $19 million. Using her math and science skills, she built a database of over 1,000 alleged infringement acts.

The Need for Patent Attorneys

An explosion of patent applications and the consequential need for lawyers to challenge new patents and protect old ones has created a demand for these specialists. Law professions are seeing a growing number of students with science and engineering backgrounds leaping into law.

Many times, recruiters may even target science alumni. And why shouldn’t they be interested? The promise of higher salaries provides a powerful lure for some students who might otherwise gravitate toward a career in science. A University of Pennsylvania law professor, R. Polk Wagner, is now seeing more people with technical backgrounds coming into law school or applying to sit the patent bar exam. Ms. Weathers was a protégé of his.

The prospect of scientists jumping into law may be intimidating, as the question of who will be making the scientific breakthroughs if all the scientists are caught up in the legality of trademarking arises. However, a Stanford University law student, Dan Knauss, has a doctorate in microbiology. He concluded that academia presents a path that is too narrow.

Knauss feels people who go into law after leaving technical fields want to be involved where science meets society, whereas simply pursuing a higher level of education in a very specific field offers fewer career options, although law may offer tedious litigation that is less rewarding for scientists than the innovation that can come from a career in medicine or lab studies.

Mark Lemley, a professor at Stanford and a patent lawyer, sees changes in the legal landscape in his classroom. In addition to the usual law students having a liberal arts background, there is an increase in the number of science majors with various backgrounds and of varying ages. His course in Intellectual Property had 140 students. It was the largest law school class.

15 years ago, that kind of enrollment was inconceivable. Stanford is leading the pack as one of a few law schools offering joint degree programs in law and science. Dean of Stanford law school, Larry Kramer, sensed a need for the program as the legal landscape evolved.

Compared to an academic science career, the patent law field is lucrative. Recent grads who land a job with top law firms will earn in the neighborhood of $160,000. The salary of someone with a federal clerkship or postgraduate science degree could be more.

Weathers acknowledges more money is made by a patent lawyer than a scientist or researcher. The money was not her motivation. A native of Thailand, Ramon Tabtiang disagrees. After earning a biochemistry doctorate at the University of California, San Francisco, he spent two years doing postdoctoral work at MIT.

He studied for his law degree while a full-time employee at a Boston law firm, Fish & Richardson, as a technical specialist. Tabtiang felt future life science breakthroughs would be, at best, incremental.  Academia intellectual freedom comes at a price: a lower salary.

Mr. Tabtiang uses his scientific training for such things as helping a pharmaceutical firm seek a patent for a new drug or helping universities form startup companies. Stepping outside the lab made him realize science and law are alternate universes each with their flaws and attractions.

Biotechnology and Law

After working with a patent attorney in preparing a researched-based application for a doctorate, William J. Simmons learned peer reviews and scientific patent standards are different. Writing the two requires different approaches.

The analytical skills he gained from this scientific training applied to assessing the worthiness of a patent. Simmons realized a patent law career had practical advantages over an academic career.

The funds for researching academic science are insufficient. Funding requirements are exceptionally high. Qualified and capable scientists are not being funded. At the same time, there is a shortage of qualified people with science and law knowledge to work in patent law.

There is an increasing need for new patent expertise in the biotech industry. Making a transition into patent law does not require blazing a new path. Patent law is a well-established career conduit for scientists.

Nearly all examiners in the United States Patent and Trademark Office biotechnology group have conducted scientific research and have a Ph.D. Most biotechnology patent attorneys have Ph.D.s in science. Many have postdoctoral experience.

The frequent developments in bioscience make the work unpredictable and dynamic. Patent attorneys are exposed to discoveries before the general public. The career provides a glimpse into the future. The legal aspect is also dynamic. The courts and Congress are sorting out the legal biotech patent framework.

The tenuous decisions impact those depending on and working in patent law. The ownership and strength of gene patents affect the future of biotech companies. Potential revision of patent law makes biotechnology patent attorneys staying abreast of law development essential so they can appropriately advise clients.

Ultimately, scientists can benefit from having a second career option as the field of academia can lead them down a very specific career path and grants can be hard to come by. Additionally, when it comes to technological and medical advances, the people on the ground floor of decision makers should not only be equipped with the legal knowledge to win a case but also with the background to truly understand the repercussions of pushing a patent through or denying one on the world around them. Salaries aside, that seems a very good reason to explore the field of patent law if you are a scientist.

Patent Paralegal Resume Tips

Patent attorneys represent clients who are seeking patents and all legal matters that relate to obtaining a patent. Patent law is a great area of law for paralegals. It involves doing a lot of paperwork, preparing a lot of documentation, and performing a lot of research.

If you’re a paralegal and are thinking about pursuing a career in patent law, you might be wondering how to craft your resume to pique the interest of potential employers. Whether you’re new to the profession or you’ve been working as a paralegal for a while, here are some things you can do to make sure your resume stands out from the crowd.

General Tips

If you’re fresh out of college or out of a paralegal studies program, there’s a good chance that this is the first resume and cover letter you’re putting together so we’ll cover some of the basics first.

  • Your name, mailing address, phone number, and email address should appear at the top of your resume in a common, easy to read font. To make sure your name stands out, it can be larger than the rest of your contact information or written in bold.
  • Try to keep your resume to one page if you can. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of work experience, this shouldn’t be too difficult to do but it’s a good rule of thumb to remember as you advance in your career.
  • Remember to use action verbs whenever you can to describe your experience. Here are some great ones that are applicable to being a paralegal: assisted, attended, coordinated, collected, created, edited, maintained, gathered, reviewed, wrote, participated, and researched.

For Your Career Objective

This section is pretty common to every resume and cover letter. It’s important because it tells the employer exactly what you’re looking for and lets them know right away if they should continue reading your resume. One of the trickiest things about writing your career objective is that it should only be one sentence long. This is mostly to save space to stick to the one-page rule but also in part so that the person reading the resume can get a sense of what you’re looking for quickly. That means it has to be as specific as possible.

If you’re new to the paralegal profession, a good example of a career objective is as simple as, “Recent graduate in legal studies looking to secure an entry-level position as a patent paralegal.” If you have experience in other areas of law, you can allude to your experience in this statement by saying something like, “To secure a position as a patent paralegal in a supervisory position” or, “To secure a position as a patent paralegal with a law firm that has a position available for an experienced legal professional looking to expand into other areas of law.”

What to List under Education

For new graduates, this is the most important part of a resume because work and real-life experience will be somewhat limited. Make sure you list your school, the degree or certificate you obtained, your major, and when you graduated. You can also list the names of courses you took throughout your time in school that specifically dealt with patent law to show prospective employers that you do have some education about their particular field of law.

For patent law, skills like research and writing are much more important than trial related experience. You can also include things that show you have experience with these skills outside of the legal profession. For example, did you write for your college newspaper? Were you involved in any leadership activities? What duties did you have in these positions? Did you do research for any in-depth articles or put together a newsletter? Anything that shows initiative and leadership that makes you stand out should be included here.

If you’ve been working as a paralegal in any field, you should still include the basics about your education: the name of your school, type of degree, date of graduation, etc. Since your work experience is more important at this point in your career, you can stick to the basics and even put this section at the end of your resume if you prefer.

What about Experience?

If you’re fresh out of school and had any kind of internships during school, this is the place to include that information. Focus on your duties as well as what skills you learned while you were there. If you had more than one internship, they should be listed with the most recent one at the top of the list.

For experienced paralegals, this is the most important section of your resume. It’s where you really show prospective employers what you can do. Past jobs should be listed in reverse order with the most recent at the top. Include the company name, your position, and dates of employment. Then, list your responsibilities. If you worked in patent law in the past, finding relevant skills to list should not be a problem. If you’re coming from another field of law, emphasize the research, writing, and organizing you were responsible for.

The Right Skills

The skills section is where you highlight any technological experience you have. This is one section where new graduates might be a little ahead of the game since most education now relies on technology in a way it didn’t a decade or two ago. List any sort of technology that you feel truly comfortable with using, whether it’s basic things like Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint or those that directly relate to law, like CaseMap of Abacus Law.

This is also the place to mention any special skills. For example, if you’re fluent in a second language, you can mention that in the skills section.

Make sure you don’t exaggerate your skills. Moreover, be truthful in every section of your resume and honest when evaluating your own proficiency to make sure you’re starting out on the right foot with prospective employers.

Patent Agent and Patent Attorney Salary Guide

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a patent attorney and a patent agent? And how much you can make in this lucrative field under each title? With the rise in technology, patent attorneys and agents are in demand.

It takes different steps to become a patent attorney versus becoming a patent agent so the salaries will differ.

You can have a strong career as both an attorney and agent and make a consistent and great yearly salary. So, we’re going to discuss the differences in the positions as well as how much you can make as a patent attorney and a patent agent.

Patent Agent Salaries

What does it take to become a patent agent?

If you want to become a patent agent, the first requirement is to gain a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, or engineering. Your degree must be recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as one that meets the requirements under Category A or you may be able to fit under Category B or C.

After receiving your undergraduate degree, you will need to register to take the patent bar exam.

You will need to study for this exam and focus on the laws and rules within the MPEP. You will need to know the patent process inside and out.

Both these requirements must be met to ensure a patent agent can understand scientific and engineering inventions as well as have knowledge of laws regarding patents.

Once you pass the patent bar exam, you will become a patent agent.

If you fail, you can, re-take the exam later on and still become a registered patent agent.

Both patent agents and patent attorneys are legally qualified to represent a client or inventor before the USPTO including helping them with the patent process.

Patent agents are more likely to do the dirty work of drafting of the patents with their knowledge of science and technology.

Many patent agents decide to expand their career (and their salary) by going to law school after many years of experience where they can become a patent attorney.

So, how much does a patent agent make?

The median patent agent salary is $92,942 a year. The range of a patent agent’s salary is between $80,082 to $112,223 a year. This is as of May 30, 2018.

Your specific salary will vary due to the state you live in and how much experience you have under your belt.

Patent Attorney Salaries

What does it take to become a patent attorney?

The steps to become a patent attorney differ only slightly for the criteria to become a patent agent.

First, much like a patent agent, a future patent attorney needs to have a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, or engineering. The degree must be recognized by the USPTO. This gives you a strong background in science or engineering so you can understand the complexities of inventions.

You will also need to take the patent bar exam. You can take this at any time once you have your Bachelor’s degree in the right field.

At some point after you receive your bachelor’s degree you have to take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) while you’re applying to a law school. This test determines your analyzing skills and your logic skills. You have to pass this test to be accepted into any law school in the United States.

While you’re in law school, you should take courses specific to patent laws like intellectual property, patent, and trademarks. Some law schools offer a degree program that’s specific to patent law.

After you receive your law degree, you need to take and pass the bar exam. At this point, if you haven’t yet taken the patent bar exam, you’ll need to take and pass it. This gives a patent attorney extensive knowledge of the law as well as patent law.

Since they are equipped with more of an extensive knowledge, patent attorneys get paid more than patent agents to practice patent law.

Since a patent attorney has attended law school and passed the bar exam, they’re able to do certain things that patent agents aren’t qualified for.

For example, patent attorneys can give legal advice to clients involving the patent process and any infringements.

Not only can patent attorneys give legal advice to clients, they’re also able to draft contracts and other important documents like non-disclosure agreements.

Finally, law attorneys are the ones who go to court to represent a client for any legal proceedings. A patent agent is not able to do this for their clients.

So, how much do patent attorneys make?

The median patent attorney salary is $237,202 a year. The range of a patent attorney’s salary is between $199,119 to $273,288 a year. This is as of May 30, 2018.

Conclusion

Despite the differences in education and expertise, patent agents and patent attorneys are a great asset for inventors. They’re both viable in the world of patent law that’s always expanding.

You can (and will) have a great career with either title. Experience in the industry is what will make you truly stand out from other patent agents and patent attorneys, not to mention clients.

If you study the patent industry continuously, even after passing the patent bar, you will make a difference in inventor’s lives as well as make a great income.

10 Things You May Not Have Realized Were Invented in the 1990’s

So much technology invented in the 1990’s was critical to the advancement of technological innovation that got us to where we are today. Smartphones, the digital camera, targeted Internet searches and the World Wide Web itself, emojis, even SnapChat and Instagram are all built on the ideas that came about in the 1990’s. Read on to discover some of the best technological advances of the ’90s.

1. Adobe Photoshop

Let’s face it, nothing in advertising and photography was the same after Photoshop. It was released in 1990 and grew into quite possibly the most important photo editing tool of all time. Back then, it was a tool used primarily by professional photographers. Today, it’s available to anyone with a PC and has inspired many of the filters and features on the most popular smartphone photo apps. Photoshop creates images that are so convincing and realistic, it forced us to try to determine what’s real and what isn’t. It became so popular that its name is now synonymous with photo editing.

2. Text Messaging

Few things have shaped modern communication more than text messaging. The first text was sent in 1992 from a computer to a cell phone. It read, “Merry Christmas.” It’s a fitting message because text messaging became a gift to all of us. While you used to have to pay per text, it’s now become so popular that unlimited messaging is a basic part of most cell phone plans. It’s not surprising that the emoji followed soon after, in 1999, changing the game yet again.

3. DVDs

Digital video discs, more commonly known as DVDs, came along in 1995. This digital format can store software, data, software, and video files. They’re the same size as CDs but have a much high storage capacity. Most DVDs were used for pre-recorded material, like movies or television shows. The technology to mass produces these is pretty incredible. Data is physically stamped onto them, making them read-only. They can’t be recorded over or erased. The integrity and clearer picture from movies on DVDs made them far superior to their predecessor, the VHS tape. It wasn’t long before DVDs and the like completely took over the market and VHS tape stopped being produced.

4. Google

Believe it or not, Google began in 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were Ph.D. students at Stanford. Google revolutionized internet searching by using different criteria to get better, more relevant results. Early Internet searches simply looked for the number of times a word appeared on a page, but Google was different. They used PageRank, a new technology that determined the importance of pages using backlinks. Google continued to fine-tune their search process and quickly became the best search engine out there. That’s why today, the word “google” has come to be the general term for an Internet search.

5. Sony PlayStation

In the 1980s, Nintendo proved that video game consoles could compete with the growing popularity of PC gaming. When Sony unveiled the PlayStation in 1994, it upped the game again. Video game consoles were once thought to be primarily for children but with the PlayStation, a whole new market opened up for upscale gaming that adults would quickly grow to love. Because it uses a CD-ROM format, the games could be more realistic and in depth. It was a huge success and sold over 100 million units.

6. MP3 Players

A few years before Apple released the iPod, a small South Korean company developed the MP3 player in 1998. It had 64 MB of memory, which at the time was enough to hold 18 songs. This was the first device sold to ever approach music in this way. By the time the iPod was released in 2001, a musical revolution was already underway.

7. The Internet

You can’t have Google or later versions of the PlayStation without the Internet. The original proposal was published in 1990. Its title was “WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project.” It debuted to the public a year later and, in 1993, the Mosaic web browser made the Internet accessible to everyone. Some of the biggest internet companies followed in the next few years: Yahoo in 1994, Google in 1998, and Napster, the original file-sharing music platform, in 1999. To say the Internet changed the world is a drastic understatement. Literally nothing would ever be the same.

8. Game Boy Color

Nintendo has always been a groundbreaker in the gaming industry but they took portable gaming to the next level with the introduction of the Game Boy Color in 1998. It was the first handheld gaming system with a full color screen which put it miles ahead of its competitors. Even when its closest competition followed suit with the Sega Game Gear, Nintendo was so far ahead of the game that it outlasted all of its competition. It kept going strong until it was discontinued when the next generation, the Game Boy Advance, came out in 2003.

9. Nokia 1011

The Nokia 1011 was the first mass-produced cell phone and it hit the market in 1992. The monochrome LCD and extendable antenna were advanced for its time. It was able to hold 99 phone numbers, send and receive text messages, and, in 1994, adopted the characteristic Nokia ringtone. It was still pretty pricey but as mass production became the norm, prices started to fall so that they were affordable for the average person. In 1994, the 2010 and 2110 took its place in the market. Nokia went on to produce some of the most popular cell phones in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

10. PDAs/Palm Pilot

In a way, Palm Pilots were the earliest predecessor to smartphones. The first one was introduced in 1996. They were commonly referred to as PDAs, or personal digital assistants. One could argue that this was the earliest version of today’s digital assistants, like Siri or Alexa. This first model had a monochrome touch screen and a serial communications port. At the time, cell phones were only used for making calls so if you wanted a digital calendar and organizer, Palm Pilot was it.

So that’s a round-up of 10 interesting inventions of the 90’s. If you find inventions and new technology interesting, you may consider a career in patent law where you can help inventors patent the next big thing.

How to Become a Patent Paralegal

A patent paralegal, also often referred to as an intellectual property paralegal, is a career path you can choose to take if you’re interested in patent law, trademarks, copyrighting, and trade secrets.

Patent paralegals can’t legally perform law but they are a strong asset for patent lawyers and their clients. They’re beneficial in many of the steps it takes clients to receive a patent as well as helpful with disputes and keeping connected with clients.

Patent agents and attorneys now need more and more patent paralegals to assist them. So much so that it’s now considered a job in high demand with growing opportunities. This is mostly thanks to the boom in technology. And the best part? Patent law paralegals are one of the highest paid paralegals in the U.S.

Read on to find out a little more about what a patent paralegal does to make a patent attorney’s job (and his or her client’s life) run smoothly as well as the requirements you’ll need to become a patent paralegal.

What Exactly Does a Patent Paralegal Do?

Though patent paralegals can’t perform law, they possess several skills needed to help patent attorneys and clients. Their duties include:

  • Helping clients with the patent application process including letting patent attorneys/patent agents and their clients know of any application due dates.
  • Reviewing a client’s application for any mistakes that need correcting or any missing information that’s needed for a patent.
  • Electronically filing the patent application and other important forms and documents with the USPTO.
  • Making sure policies and procedures are being used correctly.
  • Helping to organize appointments with clients and keeping track of important court dates and impending deadlines.
  • Researching vast amounts of information needed for each individual client’s case including making sure the client’s intellectual property hasn’t been copyrighted by another person or company beforehand.
  • Helping with intellectual property litigation if someone infringes on a client’s copyrighted ideas and/or logos by drafting pleadings, conducting interviews, and preparing exhibits for court.
  • In many offices, they also help with basic office and administrative duties.
  • They’re often the point of contact between patent lawyers and clients and they maintain a healthy relationship with the client, which includes addressing any additional needs to the patent application process and addressing any questions or concerns a client may have.
  • Tracking billable time spent with clients.

Patent paralegal salaries differ from state to state and office to office. However, a new patent paralegal is usually paid between $40,000 and $50,000 a year. Those with a stronger education and more experience in patent law tend to make between $60,000 and $80,000 a year.

Patent Paralegal Education

To become a patent paralegal you need at least a two-year associate’s degree in a paralegal program. This is a bare minimum requirement for most patent law offices and for the U.S. Bureau of Law.

There are offices out there that may keep you in consideration for hiring if you don’t have the education but have plenty of experience in patent law.

Many students are getting their bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies instead of an associate’s degree. This is so they can stand out from other applicants applying for jobs at big offices, small offices, and even the government.

While in college, you will need to take classes that specialize in the patent process, trademarks, and intellectual law. Some colleges let you receive a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies that focus on patent law but this isn’t offered at many educational institutions.

If you’ve already spent 4 years studying in a different field but you want to start a career in patent law, there are certification programs you can take to become a patent paralegal.

If you take this route, you’ll want to make sure to take a certified program that’s approved by the American Bar Association. That will be one of the first things an office will look at when they see a certified program on your resume.

These certification programs will teach you the necessities on trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and copyright infringements among many other subjects pertaining to patent law. They also teach you to know your way around a patent application.

There are also advanced certification programs for those who have already received a degree in the patent paralegal field. These programs help you hone in on the skills you’ve learned so you can master them.

There are 2 major paralegal organizations that can certify paralegals: the National Association of Legal Assistants and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations.

Patent Paralegal Experience

You need experience alongside your education to become a well-rounded patent paralegal that everyone wants to hire.

Some patent law offices may consider hiring you as an intern while you’re receiving an education in the patent field. The downside is that these are typically unpaid internships.

Though unpaid, these internships give you insight into the patent process. They can give you the hands-on experience of working in a patent office and with clients and companies. Working as an intern will give you the experience in this specialized field that no classroom ever can.

Internships also work as a great networking experience for bigger and better job opportunities after you graduate in the future. You will get to know people from different offices or the office you work for will want to hire you on as a paralegal after you graduate.

Conclusion

Becoming a patent paralegal doesn’t require an expensive Ph.D. or a monstrous plan. You can up your career and up your income with a few years of school and some experience behind you!

What You Need to Know About the Fundamentals of Engineering Exam

While this site focuses on the Patent Bar exam, there are many other professional exams that may pertain to you and advance your career.

As an example, you may be eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination or FE exam. If you’re not interested in a career in patent law, but want to continue on the road to a great career in engineering, this exam may be a better fit for you. If so, we hope this article helps you navigate the FE exam.

For many, the Fundamentals of Engineering Examination (FE) is the first exam and the first stepping stone along your journey to becoming a Professional Licensed Engineer (P.E.). In some states, it’s called the Engineer in Training exam (EIT).

It’s an unfortunate necessity that will further your future engineering career. It looks great on a resume for an unpaid internship and it gives you the shove (and the confidence) to complete your other exam.

You’ve taken the time, dedication, and tuition money to become a professional and make a difference. It’s important for you to know all you can about the exam beforehand.

As it is a little more than a bunch of simple multiple-choice questions, this article will cover the basics of preparing yourself for the engineering FE exam.

The Basics of the FE Exam

Where Do I Take the FE Exam?

The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is responsible for administering the FE exam. The NCEES is a nonprofit organization. They create and score the exams needed to become either a professional engineer or surveyor.

In order to schedule and take the FE test, you must create an account on the MyNCEES. You can schedule your test but that doesn’t mean it’s always available when you want to take it, in your area.

To register for the FE exam, you have to sign into your MyNCEES account. There will be an option to register followed by instructions on how to finish registering and how to sign up for an exam date and location.

You can find a test area near you right here. There are locations spread all across the United States.

The exam is entirely computer-based and multiple choice. There are 110 questions to answer and it’s a 6-hour test including a 25-minute break.

There’s also a tutorial before the exam and a survey you take after the exam. These are included in the 6 hours.

You can download the NCEES Handbook for free through your MyNCEES account to help you study for the exam but it will also be available during testing. You can view the handbook on a split screen while taking your test.

Who can take the FE Exam?

To take the FE exam you need to either have recently graduated with an engineering degree from an EAC/ABET accredited program or be close to graduating and in your final year of school.

There are special instances (though rare) where you can bypass the required education if you have enough work experience on your belt.

Does it Cost to Take the FE Exam?

Yes, there is a test fee of $225. You can pay the fee through your MyNCEES account. Beware, there are states that may make you pay an application fee just to take the exam.

What’s on the FE Exam?

Back in the day, the test had a variety of questions in a variety of specializations. In 2015, this changed. They updated to the FE exam to focus on your specialization.

The main individual specialized tests include Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Environmental, Industrial, Mechanical, and a separate exam for Other Disciplines.

What Score Do I Need to Pass the FE Exam?

The score to pass the FE exam varies from specialization to specialization.

The NCEES doesn’t have an exact exam rate on their website because they use a different scale system. You get graded on each question you answer right. Thankfully, if you answer a question wrong it won’t count against you whatsoever.

To pass, you can estimate that you will need to answer over half the questions correctly.

These are the average scores of those who took the FE exam for the first time:

  • Chemical FE Exam: 70%
  • Civil FE Exam: 68%
  • Electrical and Computer FE Exam: 70%
  • Environmental FE Exam: 78%
  • Industrial FE Exam: 72%
  • Mechanical FE Exam: 80%
  • Other Disciplines FE Exam: 81%

You will receive your exam scores 7 to 10 days after taking it. You will receive an email that tells you how to check your score on your MyNCEES account.

They break down the exam into several areas. It will show how well (or how badly) you did in each area. If you fail, this gives you an idea of what areas you’re lacking in and what to study for next time.

Can I Bring Anything with Me to the FE Exam?

You will need a government-issued ID to take the FE exam, like a driver’s license or passport. This is to ensure that you are who you say you are. Your name on your ID must match the name you scheduled under and the photo must clearly be you.

It’s not required but it’s advised to bring a print out of your confirmation for your scheduled exam appointment. This is to protect you from any mistakes made and to make sure you get in to take the exam.

You’re not allowed to bring any writing utensils or paper to the exam. They will provide you with pencils and you can use an exam booklet for scratch paper if you need to.

You can bring a calculator but it must be an NCEES approved calculator model. They have a list of  approved calculators. There is a strict policy on calculators to prevent cheating.

The NCEES Handbook will be available to you for reference throughout the exam.

You are allowed ear buds or noise-canceling headphones if you need them to fight distraction.

Conclusion

With the right testing techniques and the right study habits, you can pass the FE exam with flying colors. This article will help you be prepared so you won’t feel lost when you go to take the exam.

Don’t just rely on using the NCEES Handbook while you’re taking the test. This will eat up your time if you have to search for help with every question. Download your free copy and study, study, study!

3 Tips for Finding a Summer Job at a Patent Law Firm

As most first-year law students know, getting your foot in the door at a patent law firm and looking at your first real intellectual property job can feel like a daunting task. When you’re first starting out on a summer associate program, finding a job in any field can be a hard process. You have to be able to stand out from the hundreds of other applicants at large law firms and you have to make a lasting impression on the big bosses of the firm.

By gaining on-the-job training on a summer associate program, the second summer of your law school experience can lead to opportunities further down the road like giving you an edge up on others. In addition, it can even possibly lead you to a full-time position once your school is over. So, we’ve created a list of tips to find a job this summer at a patent law firm.

What are Your Duties as a Summer Associate at a Patent Law Firm? 

First, before you take the plunge as one of the many summer associates around the country, you should have an idea of what your duties will be. Some of your duties will vary from law firm to law firm but the basic duties will remain the same.

Most summer associates get to dive head first into the application process for patents. They learn how to prepare both patent and trademark applications. They also do most of the research needed for cases.

If the law firm is as dedicated to you as you are to them, you might also be invited to attend litigations and even trials dealing with patent law.

3 Tips for Finding a Summer Associate Job

Tip # 1: Contact Your Law School’s Career Services Office

Most law schools have a career services office on campus. These offices are dedicated to helping you along your career path. A career counselor will have job listings, including summer associate positions at law firms. They can connect you with the best law firms you’re compatible with.

Career counselors will also help you create a solid resume and help you gather recommendation letters from faculty that will boost your chances of a position at a firm.

After you have everything ready and organized, most law firms require you to bid on the position. Bid on law firms that match your credentials but bid on more than one patent law firm. If you’ve taken the USPTO exam already and you passed make sure you have a copy of your certificate for law firm recruiters.

You can also apply outside of your college’s career services office. Referrals and networking are gold in law firms.

Most summer associate spots begin in May and finish at the end of July or beginning of August. It’s important you apply early. Most firms will start posting job listings in December.

Tip # 2: Have a Polished and Updated Resume

Your resume, as well as any recommendation letters you’ve acquired, will help you establish yourself. A well-polished resume is one of the major keys to impressing any law firm.

A cover letter is always appreciated. A cover letter introduces you to the firm. It gives you a chance to go into detail about your qualifications for the summer associate position and what your goals are at their firm. Your cover letter will decide if they bother to look at the rest of your resume.

If you’re a current law student, the first thing the patent law firm should see on your resume is what law school you’re attending and your grades. If your grades aren’t as great as they should be, list other qualifications or prior law work experience you have at the top, even if it was a free intern position.

Always make sure your resume is updated and double check for any grammatical errors.

Tip # 3: Be Prepared for the Interview

First, you need to research the patent law firm that’s about to interview you. You want to know all there is to know about that specific firm before you enter that room.

Does the firm work with all types of patent and trademark law? Or do they specialize in a specific field? The law firm could only deal with patent applications and another firm might focus on patent lawsuits. Alternatively, the firm might specialize in particular type of patent from software to electrical.

They need to know you have the knowledge required to do the job. If you’ve been studying with a focus on patent law, be sure the recruiters know this. They want someone who wants a career in patent law, not someone who will accept a job at any law firm.

Along with researching the firm, you want to be prepared in other ways as well. You want to exude confidence when you’re being interviewed. In order to be full of confidence, you need to be prepared.

You need to be ready for any questions they might throw your way. Most of these interviews will be done on your campus and are usually 20-minute screenings. You should also know how to articulate what you bring to their law firm, even just for a summer associate position. Don’t be afraid to highlight your strengths and qualifications.

If your interview went well, you should be called back for another interview.

A Summer Associate Position is Your Key to Future Success

Finding a summer associate position at a patent law firm takes commitment and a hard heart. Be ready for some disappointment so you know to apply for more than one position.

Despite any setbacks you may have, the experience you receive while in a summer associate position is worth the headache of finding the right summer job at a patent law firm.

How to Use Glassdoor to Find the Best Patent Law Firms to Work For

Whether you’re thinking about taking the patent bar exam or you just passed it and are ready to embark on your new career, it’s not always easy to find the patent law firm that will be the best match for you. One of the top resources out there is Glassdoor which has a wealth of information that can help you figure out the places you want to work along with any you want to avoid.

Not familiar with Glassdoor? Here’s a quick introduction about how to use it to find the right firm.

What Should You Expect When Working as a Patent Lawyer or Agent?

Before you can figure out what firms are good and which aren’t, it’s good to have a basic idea of what the job entails.

Patent law is very specialized. In fact, to become a patent agent, you have to have a degree in the science or engineering field that relates to the patents you’ll be working with. A good patent lawyer or agent will make sure that an inventor gets proper credit. When you find work as a patent lawyer, expect to spend a lot of time filling out and reviewing patent applications. One of your main roles will be assessing whether or not an invention is innovative enough to warrant a patent.

Most lawyers don’t know much about patent law. It’s an ever-changing field and those who specialize in patent law aren’t exactly plentiful. There are a few different places you can expect to find work. Some patent attorneys work at law firms that specialize in helping small businesses and individuals. Others work for large firms that serve corporate customers. It’s good to have an idea of what size firm you want to look for and keep in mind that larger firms often have more resources.

The day-to-day work consists of paperwork and research in an office setting. There are a lot of deadlines to meet and you’re often working with more than one client so the schedule can get a little hectic.

Using Glassdoor to Find the Best Firm

One of the greatest things about using Glassdoor is it gives you a lot of information you wouldn’t otherwise have access to that really makes the job hunting process a lot more transparent. It can help with the entire job hunting process, from figuring out the best places to work to negotiating your salary.

You can use Glassdoor to look for open positions just like on any job site. Search by title and location, salary range, distance, and more. For each firm, you’ll find a company overview. This includes information about where they’re headquartered, how many employees they have, when the business was founded, and their yearly revenue. You’ll also find a brief description of the business and a link to their website. This information can immediately tell you whether or not the firm is the right size for you if you have a preference between a small firm and a large one.

Next, you can see a rating of the firm on a 5-star scale in addition to statistics as to what percent of employees would recommend the company to a friend and how much they approve of the CEO.

The star ratings are gathered from employee reviews, the next section of information available. These reviews are arguably the best thing that Glassdoor has to offer. They are written by the people who work there or have worked there in the past. Generally, people don’t hold back. You can see the person’s job title, which city they work in, and the pros and cons they shared about the company. Each review also gives a snapshot of how the employee feels about the CEO, the direction of the company, and whether or not they recommend working there.

If you dig a little deeper into a firm’s profile, you can find even more details about what it’s like to work there. There is a salary breakdown of what employees make by job title, like an attorney, legal secretary, clerks, and paralegals. There’s also information available about benefits, too, like 401K packages, health insurance, as well as vacation and paid time off.

After looking at available jobs and evaluating all of the information provided in the reviews, if you decide there’s a firm you’re interested in or a job you want to apply for, there’s one more piece of information that you’ll find especially useful. Employees share questions they were asked on their interviews. While there’s no guarantee you’ll face the same ones in the event of an interview, it’s a great place to start if you want to prep.

Getting the Best Results

Glassdoor has a wealth of information but it won’t do you any good unless you use it. By reading employee reviews, you can get a feel for the kind of environment it is to work in. Are current employees happy? Or are they outnumbered by angry former employees and bad reviews? Having a positive and supportive work environment is really important and employee reviews will really give you a sense of what you can expect.

Once you determine that a firm is the right size and seems to have a staff that is happy and satisfied, use the rest of the information Glassdoor provides to learn what you can expect as a salary and benefits package. This information is also exceptionally useful if you accept a position and are entering salary negotiations because you’ll already have an idea of what they’re paying other patent attorneys or agents in the firm.

If you’re looking for the best way to help you start your career in patent law, Glassdoor is a resource that really gives you all the information you need to make the right decision.

10 Things You May Not Have Realized Were Invented in the 1980’s

Of course, the wheel and internal-combustion engine had already been invented long ago there were as yet no super modern innovations like cell phones or whichever device is in your hand right now as you read this. But so much of the cutting edge technology we depend on today got its start back in the fast-paced, big-haired, neon 1980’s. Let’s take a look at some of the groundbreaking inventions this one-of-a-kind decade brought us.

1. Disposable Cameras

First up on our list of technology invented in the 1980’s is the disposable camera. At one point in time, taking photographs meant investing in a somewhat expensive camera, learning how to use it properly, and getting all the necessary supplies like film and lenses. While professional photographers and hobbyists still preferred the real thing, disposable cameras were perfect for tourists, college students, and anyone who wanted to be able to capture moments without making a big financial investment. For years, they were the preferred choice for so many people.

2. Compact Discs and CD Players

Compact discs came along at an interesting time. Sony released the first CD player in 1982. That was the year most record companies completely phased out 8 tracks and people were primarily listening to music on vinyl and cassette. Early on, CDs themselves were pretty affordable, but the first CD players were much more affordable. Cassettes and vinyl were still available but CDs quickly became the preferred option.

3. Disposable Contact Lenses

Contact lenses used to be hard, difficult to take care of, and could be really uncomfortable. Owning a pair of hard contacts was similar to owning glasses. You wore the same pair over and over again and had to perform regular maintenance and care. If you lost one, replacing it wasn’t cheap. Although they’d been in development for a while, disposable contact lenses hit the consumer market in 1987 and changed everything. Because they’re made of out hydrogel, they’re soft, air permeable, and much more comfortable. Plus, there’s little to no upkeep since you just throw them away and replace them when the time comes.

4. Artificial Human Heart

While the research into artificial hearts started all the way back in the 1930’s, it didn’t become a reality until 1982. The Jarvik-7 artificial heart was made of plastic and metal and was initially supposed to serve as a permanent alternative to a living donor heart transplant. While the implementation didn’t go as planned, it was used as a temporary measure to buy patients a little more time when waiting for a donor organ. The Jarvik-7 itself had limited success but it did prove that it could be done, inspiring surgeons and doctors to continue advancing the technology that the medical field relies on today.

5. Mobile Phones

Believe it or not, the first mobile phones went on sale to consumers in the US in 1983. The very first was the Motorola DynaTAC. It was surprisingly ahead of its time with an LED display and the ability to store up to 30 different phone numbers. The technology had a long way to go until mobile phones could become as ubiquitous as they are today. The DynaTAC took 30 minutes to charge for only 10 minutes of talk time. Plus, the technology was prohibitively expensive. In 1984, it cost about $4,000 and was a status symbol meant for only the wealthy. That’s the equivalent of about $9,500 today.

6. Walkman

It might be hard to believe but, prior to the introduction of the Sony Walkman in 1980, the only way to listen to music on the go was with a giant battery-powered boombox. The Walkman allowed people to listen to music in private, without disturbing everyone around them or broadcasting their taste in music to everyone around them. Walkmans were so portable—you could just toss it in your bag or even clip it to your waistband. While portable CD players became popular toward the end of the decade, they still weren’t as reliable as a Walkman when on the go because they used cassette tapes, which didn’t skip or need to be held in a certain position to work. Plus, changing the playlist was as simple as popping in a new tape.

7. Personal Computers

The first computers were so massive and they took up entire floors of buildings. In the 1970’s, computing technology advanced rapidly and as miniaturization rapidly took over, the size of computers shrunk dramatically. Where there was once no way for the average person to access a computer conveniently, IBM and Apple took advantage of the new technology and introduced the first personal computers in the early 1980’s. IBM was first with the launch of the 5150 in 1981. It used in Intel 8088 processor and ran on version 1.0 of DOS. Apple soon followed with the Macintosh in 1984. The Macintosh was unique in that it used a graphics-based interface and a mouse to navigate the system instead of typing commands. It simply cannot be overstated how important the introduction of the home PC was.

8. Nintendo

While Atari introduced home gaming consoles in the 1970’s, it’s still fair to say that Nintendo changed the game entirely. The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, was introduced in 1985. Around this time, PCs were getting very popular and sales of regular video games tanked. Nintendo still felt that their product was unique and the games they were develop were good enough that they could compete with PC gaming. Flash forward to today and we know without a doubt that they were right.

9. Camcorder

Video cameras were originally designed for television broadcasting and were heavy and impractical for everyday use. Sony first introduced the camcorder for professional use in 1983. It eliminated the cable between the camera and recorder that crews had been working with. This made portable recording a one-person job and gave operators a lot of freedom that they didn’t have before. It wasn’t long until the first consumer camcorder was put on the market. The first versions were designed to sit on the user’s shoulder and enabled people like amateur filmmakers and college TV studios to produce recordings easily.

10. MTV

When MTV first went on the air in 1981, they played mostly music videos, which was a revolutionary concept at the time. The channel went on to boost the careers of artists for decades to come. MTV grew into a major pop culture and entertainment network that’s particularly influential to young adults, even today.

That’s our list of 10 interesting things invented in the 1980’s. Some are still in use today with refinements, while others have been completely replaced, but it’s fun to look back on what this decade brought us.