How Stressful is a Career in Patent Law?

Over the years, patent law has become a lucrative career choice for many individuals looking to blend their scientific education with the law. It offers various paths, ranging from patent paralegals that review USPTO databases and resolve patent data discrepancies to patent attorneys involved in patent litigation or prosecution. But, is a career in patent law worth the effort, and is it low stress?

The Journey

This is perhaps the most stress-inducing and challenging part of a career in patent law, but that is true for any job in the field of law. They all require time, energy, and dedication to get there. For one, the profession requires a technical degree and the patent bar must be passed in order to practice. The exam is one of the most difficult in the country, with a pass rate of less than 50%.

Many people have found that starting as a patent agent and working their way up is the best path. As a patent agent, one can represent patent applicants before the USPTO for their clients.

The Career

In patent law, the ultimate goal is to protect and secure your client’s intellectual property rights. It is by no means an individual effort and takes a group of legal experts and technical specialists to succeed. Stress may come in the form of long working hours, demanding clients, and tight deadlines, but that is true for any law firm.

You may enjoy the job aspect where you interact with clients and their creative ideas, discussing their invention, and researching the likelihood of successfully attaining a patent.

Alternatively, if you become a patent attorney, then you may like to involve yourself in court proceedings, brand protection, and copyright battles. Either way, there are diverse roles you can perform with a variety of clients. Most people in IP firms claim an excellent work-life balance compared to other sectors of the law.

The Reward

Jobs in patent law seem to pay off and offer a fitting reward to anyone who wants to pursue them further.

According to payscale.com, entry-level Patent Agents can expect to earn an average total compensation of around $80,000. If a patent agent is skilled in intellectual property (IP), prosecution, and biotechnology, they are more likely to earn above-average pay.

Patent attorneys, on the other hand, are more likely to start closer to $100,000. Again, with skills in intellectual property (IP), prosecution, and biotechnology, they are more likely to earn above-average pay.

Many factors contribute to stress in the workplace. A large part of it is due to what is required of a person. You may feel like things are out of control if you don’t have the necessary resources, skills, or have other worries to deal with. But, if you are confident that your scientific background is suited for a career in patent law, you are more likely to overcome the challenges to get there.

Complete Guide to a Career as a Patent Examiner

As long as people have good ideas, the need for patent professionals will exist. The field of patent law is fast-paced. With patent law, there are choices of practice types. The landscape for technical specialists, agents, and patent attorneys has changed considerably over the last two decades.

Hiring practices have also changed over the last decade or so. The job market, across the board, is excellent. Law firms need people who are experts in computer software, chemical processes, electronics, and biological/bioengineering.

Opportunities are available for scientists from any discipline. It is commonplace for employers to hire Ph.D.’s in biotech patent law. A patent agent is licensed to prepare and process patents. The career does not require a law degree.

Prosecutors write and process applications for patents that are submitted to the Patent and Trademark Office that grants patents. Administrative judges for the United States Patent and Trademark Office handle patent disputes.

There are many factors to consider when pursuing a career in patent law. They include where you want to work or live and the skills you have to offer an employer. If your calling is patent law, decisions about going to law school or diving right in as a technical specialist or patent agent have to be made. Whatever the choice, patent professionals have a bright future.

Role of a Patent Examiner

A patent examiner has two duties: issue valid patents and act as the public’s advocate. When issuing valid patents, the examiner helps applicants identify the allowable subject matter. Patent examiners make appropriate objections and reasonable rejections.

As the public’s advocate, the examiner ensures the file wrapper record is clear and complete. Prosecution before the Patent and Trademark Office is not meant to be adversarial. Patent examiners conduct a cooperative investigation between the applicant and examiner that ensures the applicant receives a patent that is per patent law and for only that which the applicant is entitled.

The patent examiner provides assistance and service to customers outside and inside the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Examiners serve as judges on the patentability of inventions concerning the conditions for patentability outlined in the Title 35 of the U.S. Code.

They determine whether an application adequately defines the bounds and metes of the claimed invention. The scope of the claim is determined. Notices of Allowance or Abandonment are issued by patent examiners who ensure all pertinent procedural steps required to obtain a patent are in compliance with application prosecution.

Job Description of a Patent Examiner

Patent examiners ensure patent applications conform to requirements. Every application is investigated to determine if an invention is described clearly and used appropriately.

The examiner undertakes manual searches of earlier publications to establish the novelty of an invention. Patent examiners consider technical issues related to an invention.

The application, along with the search results, is published. Examiners produce search reports and send them to applicants and patent agents. Patent examiners act as liaisons with applicants and agents in matters of dispute resolution. They follow appeals to the conclusion, which may be a court hearing.

Career progression occurs through a change in employment, promotion, or movement to patent attorney work. Patent offices employ patent examiners. Opportunities are advertised in scientific or technical publications, in newspapers, and online. Speculative applications are valuable. Patent offices typically keep a record of people who express interest in a position and inform them when vacancies become available.

Education

The basic qualifications of a patent examiner include earning at least a Bachelor’s degree in science or engineering. Successful completion of a four-year course at an accredited university or college leads to a bachelor’s, or more advanced degree, that has specific course requirements or a major field of study in a variety of science and engineering disciplines.

The level of education determines placement on the pay scale. Bachelor’s degrees are the lowest level or grade for Patent Examiners. High GPAs may place the potential examiner at a more advanced step. A Master’s degree will earn more for someone hired as a patent examiner. The starting pay of Ph.D.’s or those with extensive experience in the industry is higher still.

The USPTO sponsors an unpaid program for externs to gain patent experience. It offers volunteers the opportunity to learn what it is like to become a patent examiner. They gain first-hand knowledge of patent practice responsibilities and decision-making processes.

Background of Patent Examiners

The history of the patent examiner dates back to Thomas Jefferson. The Patent Act of 1790 required the attorney general, secretary of war, and the secretary of state to consider patent applications.

Jefferson served as Secretary of State and was an inventor. He had a leading role in patent application consideration.

A patent examiner today must be a U.S. citizen. Examiners are grouped into specialties. When a patent application is filed, a classification is assigned and randomly given to a patent examiner within the specified class.

Examination is the chief responsibility of the 8,000 currently employed patent examiners for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patent division. The ideas that are deemed clever, new, and useful enough to be patented are granted patent applications.

An idea that is granted application becomes intellectual property. The idea is no longer available for a patent to anyone else who may think of it. The patent owner has exclusive rights, at least for a time. Currently, the time is 20 years.

Salaries of Patent Examiners

A Patent Examiner position ranked 37th in popularity in 2016 as a job in the U.S. Government. In 2016, patent examiners hired by the USPTO had a mean salary of $114,753.

Government Patent Examining salaries are classified under a General Schedule payscale. GS-6 is the minimum pay grade and GS-15 the highest pay grade attainable within the job series. The salaries listed on the pay scale are base scale. The actual salary may be higher based on the location of employment.

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

Use Glassdoor to Find the Best Patent Law Firms

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.

How Old Is Too Old for Law School?

The average first-year law student is almost 26-years-old. Therefore, people in their 30’s and 40’s may think they are too old for starting a second career and going to law school, but it can still be a great choice for many. Here are some facts non-traditional students should know about law school admission.

Advantages of Attending Law School Later in Life

Law schools look closely at LSAT scores and GPA’s in student applications. However, relevant experience carries a certain amount of weight with admission committees. Older students bring transferable skills to both the law school and the profession.

Those who work in the justice system as secretaries, paralegals, and police officers have direct knowledge of the law. Life experience is also valuable. In addition, older students may have experience with more than one area of law.

Another advantage of attending law school later in life is that older students have lived through successes and failures that can be relevant in law school. Experienced students bring knowledge that benefits all students to the classroom. Many law schools have part-time, evening programs, and online courses that accommodate older students.

The outside-of-school-contacts older law students have typically allow them to find jobs quickly. Their personal lives are often more stable than younger students which allows for more study time. Older students had the opportunity to explore other fields of employment and have an idea of what they plan to do on a more realistic and detailed level than younger students.

Many young law students have admitted they attended law school because they had no other plans after completing their undergraduate education. Older law students are usually embarking on a second or perhaps third career. Law school is a pursuit of something they love rather than a means of making lots of money. Their expectations of the requirements and the profession are reasonable.

Disadvantages of Attending Law School Later in Life

Learning issues may cause older students to struggle. When there is a long gap between studying, learning is more difficult. Older students may find spending long evenings studying to be harder than when they were younger.

Those with children may be distracted when studying. Some find learning new technology skills to be daunting. Obligations at home may prevent older students from participating in study groups. They may also feel they do not fit in with more traditional, younger students and miss out on collaboration and learning opportunities.

Law school is expensive. Law school students sometimes graduate with more than $150,000 in student loans. Older students may decide the change in career is not worth the investment. Taking out loans for living expenses and tuition may cause an inability to recoup the investment.

Older students have a shorter work career and consequently, less time to pay back loans and enjoy large salaries. They may have trouble finding a job with an employer where age bias exists. The pay is not as high in the public sector, where many older students prefer to work.

Other Considerations

These scenarios are not true for all older students. Some can continue an existing career to avoid excessive student loans. Financial aid and scholarships may be available to older students who bring diversity to a law program that will mitigate the financial sacrifice.

Law school is both a substantial financial commitment and a significant time commitment. There are certain drawbacks to attending law school later in life.

Many employers prefer hiring younger, less experienced graduates who will work for less money. Other reasons for hiring younger employees include commitment, trainability, and career longevity.

Large firms that have more than 250 attorneys offer salaries that are the most lucrative. Statistics, gathered by the National Association for Law Placement, show 53 percent of graduating law students who are 36 or older go solo into private practice or join firms having fewer than ten attorneys. 17 percent join large law firms.

Older employees often have commitments such as aging parents or children that prevent working the 50 to 80 hours that are required. Employers sometimes fear older law student graduates are set in their ways and are not mold-able or trainable. Accepting assignments from younger supervisors may be awkward for some.

As the economy continues its stagnant condition, more people in their 40’s and beyond are going to law school. All legal sectors have recruited older law school graduates.

There are law firms that value previous work experience, especially in the area of patent law. In this field you are required to have a degree in science or engineering and any work experience in those fields is highly valued. The fact that you can become a patent agent without a law degree is a great way to take advantage of this field without spending the time and money in law school.

In addition, even outside the field of patent law, an employer is more likely to hire someone with 15 years of experience in the field of engineering over a recent law school graduate having no expertise if all other factors are equal.

Life experience may carry an edge in the process of admission. Research shows older workers are considered more committed, honest, stable, reliable, and mature by employers. Older graduates are more grounded and focused.

The maturity can be advantageous both in the admission process to law school and the job-seeking process after graduation. Older workers are less likely to challenge established dress codes by wearing inappropriate attire to work. They will not mind rising early to commute to work.

Case Study

The best reference for someone wanting to go to law school later in life is to hear what someone who did it has to say. Jamison Koehler started law school when he was 43. He felt his grades would have been better if he attended law school immediately after college.

However, Mr. Koehler is pretty confident he would have hated it. Life experience, patience, and perspective as an older student meant every reading assignment was not viewed as a task to be completed rather than an experience to savor. As an older student, he took time to sit back and let the content sink in.

Socially, he and his wife found things to be a little strange. They were friends with some of the faculty members. The instructors had joined the Koehler’s for dinner, attended school functions with them, and their children knew each other. However, the age difference was not awkward for him in the classroom.

Koehler hoped to land a job with a criminal defense firm. He had no takers. The gaps in his resume were hard to explain. He decided to forego an apprenticeship and jump into a practice of his own.

Mr. Koehler stated he is satisfied with his decision to attend law school later in life. He may be behind others in his profession concerning his practice, but he feels out in front at his second career.

 

Patent Paralegal Salary Data and Comparisons

Patent Paralegal Salaries

In the U.S., the average patent paralegal salary is $66,009. However, there are many factors that play a role in salaries including location. The type of work and title also affect the pay. For instance, the average salary for a Senior Paralegal is $75,127, a Trademark Paralegal $65,362, and a Legal Assistant/Paralegal $49,803.

U.S. Intellectual Property Paralegals can expect a salary of $68,988 per year. The typical base salary ranges from $49,000 to $94,000, but it can go even higher. Many can also earn bonuses and even take part in profit-sharing opportunities which can add another $8,000 per year on the high end.

The level of experience and residence impact Intellectual Property and Patent Paralegal salaries. The residence has the most substantial influence. Most paralegals receive medical coverage paid by their employers with a fair amount also receiving dental coverage.

Jobs and Salary Data

Review the different types of jobs related to patent paralegals along with average salaries:

Corporate Paralegal $51,400
Trademark Paralegal $52,000
Employment Paralegal $52,500
Presuit Paralegal $53,600
Wealth Management Paralegal $86,800
National Paralegal Network $54,000
Generalist Paralegal $54,100
Principal Paralegal $54,600
Transactional Paralegal $52,500
Patent Prosecution Paralegal $52,400

 

Patent Paralegal Salary in Top Cities

Take a look at the average patent paralegal salaries from top-paying cities:

Rochester, NY $42,000
Chicago, IL $47,200
Boston, MA $47,600
Sacramento, CA $50,300
Philadelphia, PA $51,000
New York City, NY $52,000
San Diego, CA $54,300
Seattle, WA $58,600
Washington, DC $62,600
San Francisco, CA $65,600

Patent paralegal salary statistics vary from source to source. Information is gathered from companies and government agencies.

Other sources of data are current job listings, consensus, and surveys. Not all job postings give details of the compensation package. There are enough that do list compensation packages to derive patent paralegal salaries without skewing to an extreme.

The future looks promising for paralegals in general. From now until 2029, employment and the average salary are expected to grow as much as 10% percent. The anticipated growth is more than that of any other occupation.

Law firms are attempting to reduce expenses while increasing efficiency. More legal assistants are being hired. To rebuild support staff and revamp project staff law firms are looking for paralegals that will additionally have administrative responsibilities not part of their initial job description.

Clients put pressure on law firms about cost. The response to the pressure is to add to the demand for paralegals that cost less to staff. Several factors have a role in determining a certified Patent Paralegal salary.

The size of the company, where it is located, the type of education the paralegal has, and the number of years of experience are deciding factors. It is wise to gain an idea of the cost of living in certain states to see if the salary offered makes living there affordable.

Paralegal Salary

To compare the information on patent paralegal salaries, the base salary for general paralegals and legal assistants is $52,920 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).  Jobs in the federal government typically pay the most at $69,490. Those in state government pay the least at $48,070.

States that pay above the average include:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington, DC

Mississippi and New York have an average paralegal salary that is 17 percent above the median. All other states have salaries that fall below the national average. Hawaii ranks lowest at 29 percent below the median.

Senior Patent Paralegal Salary

A position as a Senior Patent Paralegal usually exists in the legal department of large companies or within large legal practices. It is distinct from entry-level work by the expertise needed to hold the position and the ability to manage a variety of tasks beyond those of an entry-level Patent Paralegal.

Senior employees are trusted with sensitive documentation, reporting, and research. They are expected to maintain a high level of confidentiality. Larger firms hire Patent Paralegals to fill supervisory positions.

The senior employees have legal assistants under them. Hiring the assistants, at least conducting the initial screening and interviews, often fall on the shoulders of Senior Paralegals. The education required for Senior Patent Paralegals is more extensive than an entry-level employee.

Most legal departments or firms require a college degree from a four-year college. Approximately four years’ experience as a legal assistant is typically needed as well. Senior Patent Paralegals draft binding legal documents for attorneys.

Strong working knowledge of affidavit, discovery, and the pleading document draft format is needed to handle that aspect of a practice. Attorneys give Senior Paralegals the task of higher-level research. The Senior Paralegal must have fluent computer skills.

Typical office and business hours during the week and irregular hours when demanded by casework are required. For these tasks and responsibilities, Senior Patent Paralegal salaries are typically around $77,307.

Entry-Level Patent Paralegal Salary

Entry-level Patent Paralegals living and working in a large city may earn more than a paralegal working in a small town. The type of business also affects the salary. Some Patent Paralegals at the entry-level work for corporate legal departments or law firms, others work for federal or state government departments in the public sector.

Entry-level patent paralegal salaries are higher for those with an associate or bachelor degrees in paralegal studies. Becoming certified through a professional organization is not required but increases employability and potential salaries.

To qualify for the testing professional certification, agencies generally require experience working in a paralegal capacity to take the test. Graduation with a degree from an approved institution or a certificate paralegal training program makes a person eligible to apply for testing to become a certified Patent Paralegal.

Patent Paralegal Salary Wrap Up

Paralegals often have duties that overlap with the responsibilities of an attorney but make much less. The highest ten percent of patent paralegal salaries make approximately $60,000 less than that of the average lawyer. The average patent paralegal salary is slightly lower than social service jobs such as teachers but typically a higher salary than family and child social workers.

As you can see, the average patent paralegal salary has a wide range. It is a well-paying career field, especially considering that the education requirements for patent paralegals are much lower than the requirements for many other high-paying careers.

The Difference between Patent Engineers, Agents and Attorneys

Inventors often struggle to transform innovative ideas into reality to make our lives easier. At times, they may think they have created the novel machine, technique, or improvement to a previous invention, but someone may have already beaten them to it.

Alternatively, their hard work pays off. They file for a patent to secure exclusive rights to their concept or design, but lack of experience and knowledge may lead to clerical errors and deprive them of any.

Patents are one of the trickiest intellectual property cases and need correct handling to prevent future infringements. It is best to work with a patent agent or attorney, which helps create and file a solid patent that reserves all rights to a person’s invention. Patent engineer is another term people often use, but how do all these professionals differ?

Patent engineer

A patent contains a description of the claimed invention and a list of claims indicating the applicant’s scope of patent protection. A patent engineer works with patent lawyers or agents to help with preparing and prosecuting patent information.

A patent engineer requires at least a bachelor’s degree in the scientific domain to provide technical expertise to patent attorneys. However, they don’t have a degree in law or the training and certification required for patent agents, but they can acquire them to progress further in the field of intellectual property.

They work with inventors to find existing patents and write technical aspects for their patents that clearly describe the invention. They help support attorneys during litigation proceedings such that the patent passes infringement clearance.

Patent agent

Like patent attorneys, patent agents also need to have scientific knowledge. Additionally, they need to pass a special bar exam given by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and be members of the Patent Bar.

They work closely with the party that requires a patent to evaluate their intellectual property and its patentability. Therefore, they help prepare and file patent applications that meet the legal requirements and substantive requirements relating to technical details of the idea that require disclosure by law.

Additionally, they provide guidance for a variety of patent-related issues. Patent agents can become patent attorneys and help clients during litigation.

Patent Attorney

Patent attorneys are lawyers that have passed the federal bar exam to practice law. They may also have a specialized scientific degree that helps them understand their client’s inventions as well and have passed the patent bar exam.

Their work is very similar to patent agents in terms of filing and preparing applications for patents; however, they can also argue patent infringement cases in a court of law. Knowing patent procedures, federal rules and regulations, and ethical guidelines, they are regarded as legal experts in patents.

Inventions have to be unique, useful, and non-obvious to have grounds to qualify for a patent.

While individuals can file a patent themselves, it takes time and commitment to learn about the process’s complexities and requirements. Hence, the best course of action is to hire professional help to prevent any complications when filing a patent.

What is Intellectual Property?

Many consider Isaac Newton the father of calculus, however, what they don’t know is that this topic was heavily contested by Gottfried Leibniz, who had published papers on the topic around the same time. Each claimed that the other had stolen his work, but no conclusion came of it as Leibniz died in 1716. This is one example of an intellectual property (IP) dispute between two parties.

The dispute was justified because calculus had the potential to revolutionize mathematics and the scientific community would immortalize the person who laid claim to it. Both Newton and Leibniz realized the value of this idea, however, an idea is not a tangible thing as it only exists in the mind. So how does one own and protect their ideas from theft?

Copyrights ©

Copyright, as the name implies, is the right to copy and distribute. Copyright laws are a type of intellectual property law that applies to creative works such as music, art, and literature. The copyright exists from the moment someone produces original creative work in a tangible form. However, it is the owner’s responsibility to detect infringement and to bring it to the court of law.

The copyright owner may authorize a third party to copy and distribute their work for a set fee. It is important to note that there is no such thing as an international copyright. Creative works may not be protected in every country. This usually depends on the laws of a particular country or whether that country is in treaty or agreement with the country where the original work was created.

Trademarks ™, ®

You may have commonly seen ™ or ® symbols following a logo, slogan, design, or the name of a particular brand or product. Again, as the name implies, it is a mark of trade for a particular product or service. It gives exclusive rights of usage as a corporate identity to the company that created them. Anyone else using another company’s trademark may be liable to litigation by the party that owns it.

Both ™ and ® hold the same meaning only that ® implies that the mark of trade is registered with a government body. Trademarks last for a definite amount of time, after which they require renewal. However, they can be renewed indefinitely.

Patents

A patent is an exclusive right awarded to a party that creates an invention or produces a novel technique or process. A patent discloses the technical information of the invention or process publically. Patent owners have exclusive legal rights to their invention, which prevents others from copying their ideas for commercial purposes without their consent. Like copyrights, patents are also territorial and may differ in another country and last for a limited amount of time, generally 20 years.

Modern historians have come to the consensus that Newton and Leibniz came to their ideas independently. Had intellectual property laws existed during their time, most likely this argument would have been settled in a court of law and a clear father of calculus would have emerged.

Crush Your Patent Practitioner Interview

When it comes to landing the perfect job, there are a few rules that hold true for any industry. Naturally, the more specialized your focus, the more work you’ll need to put into your interview prep. If you’re aiming for a position as a patent agent or patent attorney, your prospective company will expect you to meet certain expectations from the moment you walk through the door. Like anything else in life, if you don’t nail it, there’s somebody else waiting in the wings.

To help you prepare for your upcoming patent agent or patent attorney interviews, take a look at these tips:

THE BASICS

In some respects, all interview preparation requires the same legwork before interview day arrives. Law firms, technology transfer offices (TTOs), and universities are no different than other employers in that, they still expect you to bring your best self to the table.

Rely on Your Research Skills

While this may sound like a point so obvious it doesn’t need to be stated, the unfortunate fact is that many candidates arrive at interviews without performing their due diligence. Because your future patent job will rely extensively on research, it won’t bode well for you if you’re unable to answer some of the simplest questions your interviewer is likely to ask you.

It’s common for people to fall into a trap, thinking they’ve spent so much time in school and doing their own research that they’ll nail the interview based on their skills and background.

It’s equally as common for people to fail interviews because they aren’t able to answer the simplest of questions. Sure, your interview is about selling yourself, but your interviewer wants to know what you can do for them.

You need to be able to adjust your answers to suit their specific needs. If you haven’t done your research, your replies will sound canned, and you’ll look like you’re going for any job someone will hire you for.

In order to avoid that, follow these tips:

  • Learn about the partners or leaders in the organization.
  • Understand the company’s current successes and struggles. How would you contribute to getting a problematic project back on track?
  • Read reviews on Glassdoor, explore Martindale-Hubbell, and search for news releases and industry publications that will tell you more about the company’s culture and values. How do their goals align with your own?
  • Subscribe to industry publications. If you can easily talk about industry trends, problems competitors are facing, and current events, you’ll give yourself a leg up on the competition.

Network

Networking doesn’t happen overnight, so it’s best to begin this part of your journey as soon as possible. If you’ve recently left a job in good standing, reach out to your former supervisors for letters of recommendation. If you’re just beginning your patent career, or if you don’t have stellar references from past employers, look toward LinkedIn.

  • Connect with those employees with whom you had a positive working relationship at prior employers.
  • Look for shared connections with people you know, and ask for introductions.
  • Reach out to people who hold the same or similar position at the company with which you’ll be interviewing. If they accept, start a conversation. Ask for insights about company culture or tips for completing a successful interview with the person or people with whom you’ll be speaking.
  • Join patent law groups where you can learn from other industry professionals and foster meaningful relationships. Groups specifically geared toward patent attorneys and patent agents are great places to connect with people and information that could bolster your career.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF INTERVIEWS

We no longer live in a world where you can expect to sit across the desk from the hiring manager, tell him or her about yourself, and get an offer letter in a few days. While that certainly does happen on occasion, interviewers have gotten far more creative in recent years.

Loyola University’s School of Law did a great job outlining some of the pros and cons of various legal interviewers’ styles. If you’re not prepared for any and all of them, you may find yourself in a situation wrought with an embarrassing silence.

Here’s a look at some types of interviews you may encounter:

Structured Interviews

You might consider this the traditional interview style. In this situation, you may encounter an ice-breaker question about your drive or the weather — a question unrelated to the interview that’s just enough to settle you into your seat. He or she will likely tell you a little bit about the company and the specific position for which you’ve applied. Then he or she will hand the reigns over to you, and it will become your job to intertwine your experience with anything he or she just said.

It is imperative to listen closely and develop responses in your head as your interviewer is speaking. The more you’re able to customize your responses, the better impression you’ll leave on that person. When the interview is finished, expect to be asked if you have questions.

You should always have questions! Rehearse a series of questions long in advance of your interview, and even if your interviewer answers them as you go, ask him or her to expound upon them when the appropriate time comes.

Stress Interviews

As a patent professional, you may find yourself facing a stressful interview. These interviews are designed to measure your demeanor during certain situations. This allows the interviewer to gauge how you handle stress and how you interact with others when things aren’t exactly going as planned. He or she may become distracted, appear indifferent to you, or engage in conversation that’s contrary to something he or she has already said.

Stress interviews are also known to include strange questions that are seemingly irrelevant to the position at play. If your interviewer goes this route, there’s really no way to prepare for the specific questions, as nothing is off the table, but if you can confidently explain your logic and articulately verbalize your take on the situation, you’ll make an impact on your interviewer. Typically, there are no correct answers to these questions.

It is imperative to stay focused and calm. Remember, this type of interview isn’t an accident, and the company is waiting to see how you react.

Behavioral Interviews

Behavioral interviews are among the most commonly administered interviews these days. The goal is to help the interviewer learn more about your past behavior so he or she can determine how your actions might impact his or her own firm in the future. To adequately answer these questions, you must be prepared to honestly discuss your past experiences. Call upon the S.T.A.R. method of interviewing, which employs the following aspects:

  • Situation – Describe the event or situation using specific details; do not generalize.
  • Task – Tell the interviewer about the goal you were trying to accomplish.
  • Action – This is when personal pronouns are important. What did you do to accomplish your goals? What role did you play to help your company succeed? In a behavioral interview, the word “I” is more important than the word “we.”
  • Result – Describe the outcome of the project, and take credit for your work where credit is due. Be sure to explain what you learned from the experience, as that will show your prospective employer you’re looking for ways to grow and better yourself as an employee.

In the end, every successful interview begins with great research. The more you know about the company for which you’re interviewing, the more confident you’ll be when you’re selling yourself to potential employers. While it’s true that a solid job search is often a job in and of itself, you’ll reap great rewards if you put in the work. An exciting career in patent law awaits you on the other side of your interview journey!

About the Author

Kristin B. is a professional content writer who focuses on human resource-related content. After a tedious job-search journey a few years ago, she employs her lessons learned to make the job quest easier for others.

Should Your Resume Include an Objective Statement?

The basic resume formula hasn’t changed much over the years: it includes your work experience, your education, and your most relevant skills and accomplishments. But the objective statement, which has sat at the top of resumes for decades, might have finally gone out of style.

Objective Statements Are Out

Objective statements waste recruiters’ time. Most hiring managers have a stack of resumes on their table, and they need to sort through applicants as quickly as possible. If you start your resume with a bland sentence about your aspirations, you’ll probably end up on the bottom of the pile.

The truth is that you don’t need to explain yourself on your resume. Recruiters don’t care how the job fits into your ten-year career plan or how you intend to grow your skills with a new professional experience. They also might not care if you’ve taken a few years off work or recently changed careers, because that information isn’t entirely relevant to the hiring process.

Instead, recruiters care about whether you’re ready to do the job at hand. They want to know if you have the right skills, and they’re wondering how much training you’ll need. Objective statements don’t answer either of these questions, which makes them effectively useless at the top of your resume.

When you submit a resume, the recruiter can safely assume you’re interested in the job and believe you’ll be an asset to the company. Your task is to use your resume and the hiring process to convince the recruiter that you’re a good fit for the position.

Summary Statements Are In

A summary statement is a sentence that explains why you’re a good fit for the job. Summary statements are different from objective statements because they don’t say why you’re applying – they just tell why you’re the right choice.

An example summary statement might be:

“Molecular biologist with 10 years experience. Registered patent agent.

Or:

“Talented system administrator who specializes in information security. Knows Java, Python, and C++.”

Both of these statements tell the recruiter that you have the skills they’re looking for. They summarize your resume and can ideally corroborate your work experience.

Summary Statement Tips

  • Keep it short. Recruiters don’t have time for long-winded explanations. Get to the point in one sentence or less. If you need more content, use bullets.
  • Highlight your talents. A summary statement should make your resume easier to skim. Point out your best features; the recruiter will keep reading if they want to know more.
  • Tell a story. Your summary statement is the perfect place to turn your career experience into a coherent narrative. Find the thread that ties your different jobs together, and use it as the fulcrum for your employment-seeking brand.

Getting to the Good Stuff

Summary statements are better than objective reports, but your best bet might be to skip the statement entirely. If the goal is to save the recruiter’s time, why not let your work experience speak for itself?

When you’re deciding whether to add a summary statement, think about the length of your resume. Summary statements are the right choice if you have a unique skillset or a career full of unusual jobs. However, if your skills are inherent to your previous positions, a summary statement might come across as repetitive or unnecessary.

If you decide to add a summary statement, skip the headline. Your resume will look sharper, and the recruiter’s attention will go to the points that matter most.

A resume is meant to share important hiring information and make your application look as good as possible. Objective and summary statements are simply tools to help get your message across. Include the sections that sell, and leave everything else for the interview; if you keep it snappy, you’ll end up with more calls than you expect.

Cool Invention: 3D Printer Patents

As 3D printing gains popularity, a debate rages about whether patent protection is beneficial for the technology. This fact matters for the industry because several patents are expiring, and companies are filing for new ones at a rapid pace.

3D Patents Are in Their Fourth Decade

3D printing technology and patents are not new. The history of the industry traces back to 1984 when Charles W. Hull first put in a patent application for stereolithography. Later that same decade, things advanced even further when S. Scott Crump, who was working for Stratasys at the time, invented fused deposition modeling. That’s the process by which material fuses continuously by later until a 3D object emerges.

Testing the Patent Debate

Whether patents encourage or discourage innovation has long been a central debate. Some argue that the license makes other companies, who which to compete in the same space, innovate to find a different way of doing the same thing.

One thing seems inevitable; patents for 3D printing continue to rise. With thousands of patents issued yearly on this technology alone, the industry is definitely increasing, and innovation continues to grow in tandem.

That’s not the only noticeable trend. 3D printing patents are also transferring from one company to another rapidly. Further, more patents are undergoing litigation.

That means that the 3D printing business is maturing, which will propel a few other trends in the coming years.

  • Most future tech in the space will rely on technology that is already patented.
    The costs associated with 3D patents will continue to rise, and royalty costs will move upward as well.
  • Patent directors at companies will need to monitor patent litigation and transfers to remain competitive.
  • Senior-most patent managers are responsible for monitoring the patent market for 3D printing patents. The reason is that it’s becoming increasingly likely that patent-assertion entities will buy up current portfolios to charge royalty payments on a broad range of innovations.

IP Law Is Not Keeping up With the Changes

The 3D printing industry is exploding, but the IP laws are moving at a slower pace. That means that the industry could face potential problems due to outdated laws. For example, it’s not entirely evident what happens when someone uses a 3D printer to print a copyrighted item.

Even more impressive, consumers at some point will be able to 3D print replacement parts for many protected designs and products. The law code will need to update to handle a wide variety of legal issues

What Does It All Mean?

For the consumer, all of this activity will result in excellent news in the form of lower prices and better technology. That follows the trend for most technical innovations. As the interest grows in offering commercial products, the patents rise as well. That leads to much in-fighting and litigation until clear winners emerge.

Nothing will slow down the industry, and ultimately, every other possible sector may feel the effects. That’s where things promise to get interesting. The 3D industry has come a long way since Charles W. Hull’s initial patent. The way forward will likely see more innovations as engineers and investors take on obstacles directly.

The biggest challenge will likely be how 3D printing impacts other product categories. There are already many examples of this disruptive tech forcing many changes in the worldwide industry. That’s unlikely to change, and patents will rise during the process. The patent assertion entities will likely be the most significant threat to innovation, so new companies in the space will need solid legal grounding.