PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

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thwalls
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PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:30 pm

I am bored at the office since I'm waiting for feedback on a Response to a Non-Final Office Action. I'm a PT 1L who is also a registered patent agent working for a medium sized IP boutique. If you have any questions about going the IP route from the sciences, to an IP job at a boutique firm, to law school I'd like to answer them if I can.

Time's yours.

gerbal
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby gerbal » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:00 am

How do you find your work? Do you feel like you do the same thing over most of the days or do you feel some sort of accomplishment after each day? How many hours do you work each day? What advantages do you think having a JD will grant you as far as working as a patent agent? Thanks.

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:37 am

gerbal wrote:How do you find your work? Do you feel like you do the same thing over most of the days or do you feel some sort of accomplishment after each day? How many hours do you work each day? What advantages do you think having a JD will grant you as far as working as a patent agent? Thanks.


This is my first year at this firm, so most of the work is given to me. I meet with partners in the firm who will say, "Write this provisional. Here is the info from the inventor, have it on my desk by tomorrow." Or, "Here's a first office action from the PTO. Familiarize yourself with the case, write a response, give me the draft before you submit." And it goes like that.

It depends on how you look at things. If you regurgitate your same argument with every Office Action and expect that you're going to have to just give up on certain points with the examiner, then yes, it can get boring and repetitive. But I like the process of swaying the examiner with my arguments if possible and try to draft compelling responses. Likewise, if every patent app. you draft is mostly boilerplate then you're going to feel like it's repetitive. But if you try to figure out with the inventor what the invention is capable of, rather than simply what it is, you can find the process enjoyable and different for every different invention. One caveat, when you have to draft a bunch of divisionals after a restriction requirement, that can be incredibly boring. Otherwise though, I really like it. The best part was the other day when an inventor, after me sending a notice that I filed the application, called me to tell me how excited and thankful he was. That was very rewarding.

I work between 9 and 10 hours a day. I usually roll in around 7 or 8 and work till 5 which is when I go to school. The nice thing is that the firm only requrires 1350 billable hours while I'm in school which is very easy to maintain if you have work to do. Of course, they told me that this year will be an exception since I'm still in the training phase of the operation.

As far as the difference between being an agent and an attorney, if you're doing prosecution there really isn't a huge difference when it comes to just patent pros. But the big differences come from your flexibility. For instance, at my firm, a lot of the attorneys will do trademark work on top of their patent prosecution work. In addition to copyrights. Trademarks and copyrights are very simple, but agents are barred from doing them. Another thing is that clients inherently like dealing with attorneys more often than agents. They just do so having the JD makes you more marketable. A JD also gives you the option of litigating if you want/need to.

Finally, attorneys have a higher salary ceiling when compared to agents. Which is nice too.

nobueno
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby nobueno » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:59 am

I'm currently studying Physics and would like to learn more about the field of IP law. Will my BS in Physics be a degree that helps me in IP law, or are they looking more for Electrical Engineering degrees?

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:03 am

nobueno wrote:I'm currently studying Physics and would like to learn more about the field of IP law. Will my BS in Physics be a degree that helps me in IP law, or are they looking more for Electrical Engineering degrees?


Unfortunately, in the pure sciences chemistry/biology/phsyics they want a PhD if you want to do prosecution. But, that is not usually the case if you want to do litigation. More specifically, yes, they are usually looking more for EE degrees with just a BS.

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OrdinarilySkilled
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby OrdinarilySkilled » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:11 am

Are there any MEs at your firm? Did you have any patent experience before getting the job or did you just take the patent bar? Do you work with cases in many different arts?

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:23 am

OrdinarilySkilled wrote:Are there any MEs at your firm? Did you have any patent experience before getting the job or did you just take the patent bar? Do you work with cases in many different arts?


I think there is one ME at my firm. The majority are EEs and Science PhDs. In the final year of my PhD I took the patent bar and started looking for positions last year. I was offered this position two months after graduating with my PhD in Organic chemistry. I had zero experience in patent prosecution.

I work with stuff that's all over the place really. I have done a lot of pharmaceutical and biotech work. But also more recently with metallurgy. It's crazy, but that keeps it interesting. It seems like you constantly have to teach yourself new things.

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haus
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby haus » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:29 am

More along the lines of timing and logistics... How many nights a week do you have classes in your 1L PT program? Do you have a significant commute from work to school? If so, are there any challenges that need to be worked out with your commute (e.g. parking, traffic, public transit...)?

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:34 am

haus wrote:More along the lines of timing and logistics... How many nights a week do you have classes in your 1L PT program? Do you have a significant commute from work to school? If so, are there any challenges that need to be worked out with your commute (e.g. parking, traffic, public transit...)?


I am very lucky. I work in philly and attend temple. My firm is located in center city philadelphia so I can take the train into center city and go to work which takes about 25 minutes door to door. I then take the train to temple, which takes about 10 minutes and from there, I can take the train home which is another 20 minutes. So not a bad commute at all.

I have class 4 nights a week 6-9 pm. At the moment, I'm doing my contracts reading for the entire week, so that I don't have to really touch the books during the week except to refresh the subject before class.

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theZeigs
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby theZeigs » Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:27 pm

Did you find that the chemistry experience you had in graduate school was relevant for getting the job? I'm graduating hopefully in a few months and plan on taking the patent bar before then, I am curious as to how much the work I do for my thesis bears on my ability to get a job. Any advice on how to go about things right now?

I have heard throughout my academic career that IP is promising, that there's not enough of IP people, etc., but in the past 2 years on these forums, it seems like everyone is saying the market is flooded, there are too many PhDs, not enough EEs, no jobs if you have no experience, etc. Any comments?

Finally, I don't know if I would want to go to school part time while working...do you feel employment prospects are better going to a higher ranked school (which generally do not have night programs) full time or working part time at a lower tier school but thereby having extra experience?

I'm so frustrated because it just shouldn't be hard to get a job when you've busted your ass for years on a PhD, but our economy is in the shitter and even PhDs can't find jobs. It's a joke, really.

How much has being a 1L had a bearing on your ability to do your work...could you do what you now do without that experience.

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androstan
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby androstan » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:26 pm

I have a BS in ChE and a master's in chem. Probably going to GW in the fall. Will the master's matter at all?

aquyenl
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby aquyenl » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:13 pm

is it possible to do IP law with just a B.S. in biology?

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:27 pm

theZeigs wrote:Did you find that the chemistry experience you had in graduate school was relevant for getting the job? I'm graduating hopefully in a few months and plan on taking the patent bar before then, I am curious as to how much the work I do for my thesis bears on my ability to get a job. Any advice on how to go about things right now?

I have heard throughout my academic career that IP is promising, that there's not enough of IP people, etc., but in the past 2 years on these forums, it seems like everyone is saying the market is flooded, there are too many PhDs, not enough EEs, no jobs if you have no experience, etc. Any comments?

Finally, I don't know if I would want to go to school part time while working...do you feel employment prospects are better going to a higher ranked school (which generally do not have night programs) full time or working part time at a lower tier school but thereby having extra experience?

I'm so frustrated because it just shouldn't be hard to get a job when you've busted your ass for years on a PhD, but our economy is in the shitter and even PhDs can't find jobs. It's a joke, really.

How much has being a 1L had a bearing on your ability to do your work...could you do what you now do without that experience.


I'll take this a piece at a time.

1. Your experience will have an impact on your job search since firm hiring can sometimes have a lot to do with the their specific niche. For example, my firm needed someone with a medicinal organic synthesis background in order to bring in more chemistry/biotech/pharma business. If I was a materials or phsyical chemist, I wouldn't have received an offer.

2. IP is so-so right now and the job markets differ city to city. I can't really be more specific than that based on my experience. I sent out 80+ CVs and cover letters prior starting law school and was lucky enough to land my current Agent position. I got one offer. Thankfully I love the firm so it works.

3. People can say what they want about going to the top 14, and the importance of rank, but if you can take going to law school PT and like the city you're in enough to stay there for the long haul it can be a better choice assuming that you can find a Patent Agent position between now and when you start school. Depending on your situation, that could be a big if. I had personal ties to the area and I think that really helped in my job hunt. Anyway, if you have an agent position and are going PT you have a leg up on the competition even if they went to a higher ranked school, at least if you're doing prosecution that is. Prosecution has a 3 year learning curve. If you can finish law school with 3-4 years of prosecution experience you won't/shouldn't have any trouble.

4. All the jobs for PhD chemists have been sent to China and India. It is what it is.

5. Yes and no. The class that has helped me the most is Legal Research and Writing. If you don't like to write, patent prosecution (and probably the law in general) is not for you. I write all day. I'm either drafting a patent application, responding to an office action, or drafting a memo for one of the partners. I could do this job without law school but it would be a little harder since writing for the PTO is legal writing, not scientific writing. The difference is enormous.

Good luck to you!

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fatduck
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby fatduck » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:35 pm

couple questions:

1.) any patent bar tips? did you take a review course or self-study/buy materials? i'm planning on taking it this summer.

2.) you mentioned you didn't have any patent pros. experience, but what about work experience in industry? or mostly just grad school experience? is work experience less important if you've got a BSEE?

3.) did you ever try to get an examiner position, or is that just impossible atm? would i have a shot with veteran's preference?

thanks for taking questions!

LockBox
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby LockBox » Thu Feb 17, 2011 7:40 pm

Thanks for taking questions...

I'm currently working in industry as a chemist (I have a B.S.) and will be starting law school in the fall. Do you recommend that I try and sit for the patent bar now before I start law school, during law school, or after I finish. Do you think that having the patent bar under my belt will help with a job after 1L? Any response is appreciated.

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:27 pm

aquyenl wrote:is it possible to do IP law with just a B.S. in biology?


It's possible to do IP litigation with a B.S. in biology but with the way things are going, firms require a PhD in the core sciences usually.

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:41 pm

LockBox wrote:Thanks for taking questions...

I'm currently working in industry as a chemist (I have a B.S.) and will be starting law school in the fall. Do you recommend that I try and sit for the patent bar now before I start law school, during law school, or after I finish. Do you think that having the patent bar under my belt will help with a job after 1L? Any response is appreciated.



I would sit the patent bar before starting law school. Get it out of the way while you have the time. As soon as law school starts you definitely won't have the time until the following summer, and it would absolutely help in your job search since you'd be marketing yourself as a patent agent rather than just a law student.

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:53 pm

fatduck wrote:couple questions:

1.) any patent bar tips? did you take a review course or self-study/buy materials? i'm planning on taking it this summer.

2.) you mentioned you didn't have any patent pros. experience, but what about work experience in industry? or mostly just grad school experience? is work experience less important if you've got a BSEE?

3.) did you ever try to get an examiner position, or is that just impossible atm? would i have a shot with veteran's preference?

thanks for taking questions!


1. I self studied, I went to mypatentbar.com and freepatentbar.com quite a bit. Also, I bought the Bullseye patent materials which cost about $30 since they have some great study aids. Don't get duped by the courses that cost a ton of money. Yes the pass rate for the patent bar is about 50%, but if you study the free materials you should be fine.

2. I just had my experience from grad school with no real industry experience. Work experience always helps because it makes you more marketable to prospective clients; and that is a factor that firms take into consideration when making hiring decisions. I'm not sure how much of a bump work experience would be necessary for a BSEE though. I think it depends on the firm's preferences.

3. Never looked for an examiner position, but I did hear that they were hiring again. Actually a friend of mine from grad school just received a position with their. However, after being a patent agent and fighting with them tooth and nail, I don't think I could go over to the "dark side". Especially since they love to nail you with 35 USC 103 based obviousness rejections out of spite.

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fatduck
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby fatduck » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:55 pm

nice, i just ordered the bullseye materials myself. thanks!

(and lol about the "dark side" :P)

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drdolittle
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby drdolittle » Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:59 am

Thanks for taking questions!

PLI apparently hosted a presentation at my school recently claiming that the pat office will revise the content tested on the pat bar exam beginning this April. You mentioned that courses try to dupe people into paying more to prep and this definitely sounds like it. But as far as you've heard, and I'm sure you've got solid connections in the field now, might there be any truth to this? If so, would you still recommend self-study, or studying on the cheap using Bullseye, Omni, etc..?

texan_snowman
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby texan_snowman » Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:33 pm

drdolittle wrote:Thanks for taking questions!

PLI apparently hosted a presentation at my school recently claiming that the pat office will revise the content tested on the pat bar exam beginning this April. You mentioned that courses try to dupe people into paying more to prep and this definitely sounds like it. But as far as you've heard, and I'm sure you've got solid connections in the field now, might there be any truth to this? If so, would you still recommend self-study, or studying on the cheap using Bullseye, Omni, etc..?


Bumping this question.

thwalls
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Re: PT Law Student/FT Patent Agent Taking Questions

Postby thwalls » Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:52 pm

drdolittle wrote:Thanks for taking questions!

PLI apparently hosted a presentation at my school recently claiming that the pat office will revise the content tested on the pat bar exam beginning this April. You mentioned that courses try to dupe people into paying more to prep and this definitely sounds like it. But as far as you've heard, and I'm sure you've got solid connections in the field now, might there be any truth to this? If so, would you still recommend self-study, or studying on the cheap using Bullseye, Omni, etc..?


I haven't heard anything about severe changes to the content apart from what's been happening over the past few years. Recently there have been a greater number of questions addressing the PCT and Appeals processes (MPEP Sections 1800 and 1200 respectively). I haven't heard of any other changes to the content tested, but then again, if there are changes planned the USPTO will make everyone aware of them and not just PLI.

Even if they remove the repeats, which I doubt they'll do, solid studying of the free and/or cheap MPEP outlines, in addition to the MPEP's table of contents (and the TOCs for the most tested sections, i.e., 700, 2100, 1800, 1200, 1400), should more than adequately prepare you for the Patent Bar. PLI is expensive as hell, and they leverage your fear to compel you buy their overpriced product.




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