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CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:29 am
by pricon
Does anyone know about any distinctions in demand between computer science, computer engineering, and electrical engineering backgrounds of those with a JD? Can we throw in whether the jobs are mostly in prosecution or litigation within each, if applicable?

My uneducated and initial reactions to jobs searches reflect that software (CS) is most in demand, leaning toward prosecution, with the generalist EE being just as valuable, and CE perhaps being a close second. There seems to be more demand for all three degrees in prosecution vs. litigation. When it comes to litigation, all distinctions between these three are thrown out and the school prestige becomes paramount, and I am less confused by that.

The reason I ask is because I am considering getting a masters in one of the above subjects, but I am more interested in computer engineering than the other two. Would a demand for software expertise in patent law be so much greater than for hardware to warrant someone less interested in software to pursue it anyway? The answer to this question should have two different answers for prosecution and litigation. For litigation, I would doubt the question matters at all.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 12:38 pm
by pricon
A follow-up is my current path right now is to go to a T10 school with a chemical engineering degree and keeping my options open to patent litigation and all non-patent legal jobs. My current consideration is getting a CE master's, based on my interests, and going to a lower ranked law school for much less debt and pursuing CE patent prosecution as a career.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:00 pm
by PeanutsNJam
If you're getting a master's in CE, don't go to law school to do patent prosecution. Patent prosecution sucks.

If you want to do patent lit, your chem e is more than enough.

There are way better things to do with a CE master's than to go to law school for patent pros.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 1:47 pm
by pricon
PeanutsNJam wrote:If you're getting a master's in CE, don't go to law school to do patent prosecution. Patent prosecution sucks.

If you want to do patent lit, your chem e is more than enough.

There are way better things to do with a CE master's than to go to law school for patent pros.


I've heard that, and I hear you. I'm not turning my life around, but I do think these are still interesting questions.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:06 pm
by PeanutsNJam
At least work as a patent agent for a bit before you commit the time and money to getting a master's in CS solely for the purpose of having a better shot at patent pros.

If you want patent lit, just go to law school with your chem e.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:13 pm
by makingthemove
pricon wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:If you're getting a master's in CE, don't go to law school to do patent prosecution. Patent prosecution sucks.

If you want to do patent lit, your chem e is more than enough.

There are way better things to do with a CE master's than to go to law school for patent pros.


I've heard that, and I hear you. I'm not turning my life around, but I do think these are still interesting questions.


I am failing to see how those questions are interesting for you. You have a Chem Eng degree and are asking about EE, CS, CE masters with respect to patent prosecution. This makes me think that you believe you'll be more in demand for prosecution if only you had the right degree, and thus you have zero idea about how a technical background adds value to work product in patent prosecution. You should try to get a job in prosecution with your Chem E degree. Or just go to a T-10 and be happy and wild and go do litigation.

But since you asked the question, yeah there is more volume in CS, but if you have an EE you'll be more in demand. EVERYBODY knows how to write a software. Not a lot of people knows how semiconductors or a cell phone works.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:14 pm
by makingthemove
PeanutsNJam wrote:At least work as a patent agent for a bit before you commit the time and money to getting a master's in CS solely for the purpose of having a better shot at patent pros.


I don't understand this advice. Patent agent IS patent prosecution. I mean, working as a patent agent increases the shots of you working in patent prosecution, but it's like saying "go be a lawyer so that you increase a shot at working in law."

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:22 pm
by PeanutsNJam
makingthemove wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:At least work as a patent agent for a bit before you commit the time and money to getting a master's in CS solely for the purpose of having a better shot at patent pros.


I don't understand this advice. Patent agent IS patent prosecution. I mean, working as a patent agent increases the shots of you working in patent prosecution, but it's like saying "go be a lawyer so that you increase a shot at working in law."


It's not about increasing your shot, it's about getting relevant experience so you know what it's like. It's like telling someone to be a paralegal before committing 3 years/200k to going to law school. Again, if you're going to blow 3 years of your life and $$$ to become a patent pros attorney, maybe try it out first?

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:31 pm
by makingthemove
PeanutsNJam wrote:
makingthemove wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:At least work as a patent agent for a bit before you commit the time and money to getting a master's in CS solely for the purpose of having a better shot at patent pros.


I don't understand this advice. Patent agent IS patent prosecution. I mean, working as a patent agent increases the shots of you working in patent prosecution, but it's like saying "go be a lawyer so that you increase a shot at working in law."


It's not about increasing your shot, it's about getting relevant experience so you know what it's like. It's like telling someone to be a paralegal before committing 3 years/200k to going to law school. Again, if you're going to blow 3 years of your life and $$$ to become a patent pros attorney, maybe try it out first?


So if your advice is "go be a Patent Agent before becoming a Patent Attorney," I agree. But there's a huge difference between being a paralegal and a patent agent in your comparison.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:33 pm
by PeanutsNJam
Yeah of course a patent agent isn't the same thing as a paralegal. The purpose of the analogy is to illustrate the reasoning that try something similar (that doesn't require law school) before going to law school and making a career out of that thing.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:36 pm
by Jchance
EE > CS/CE (CS seems to be more common than CE, I think CE tends to confuse people re what it is.)

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:41 pm
by Piggy11
I think what the PP is trying to say is that before you go get a degree solely for the purpose of increasing your marketability for a job you should try and see if it's a job you really want. You can't go and try out being a lawyer without a law degree (unfortunately for the people who end up in jobs they hate and with crushing debt to boot), but you can work as a patent agent with a Chem E degree to try out the field before committing to a masters (and a law degree). The masters will make a minimal impact in your marketability in litigation, which is a lot less about your scientific qualifications than prosecution.

BTW, "patent prosecution sucks" is a pretty over-generalized statement. It probably depends on the field, the firm, the boss, the clients and the practitioner's personality. I happen to love it, but I work for a great firm and great boss and I have interesting long term clients with a nice mix of patent matters. It helps to have a personality suited to sitting in front of a computer 10 hours a day sifting through data and writing arguments about small, nuanced differences in such data - most of my scientist friends would rather mow lawns, but I genuinely prefer it to bench science. YMMV.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:45 pm
by PeanutsNJam
Piggy11 wrote:"patent prosecution sucks"


That was just a personal opinion, not a statement of fact. It's still better than corporate. (again, opinion, but maybe fact?)

Also, yeah, you could get patent pros with chem e too, especially if you have bomb grades in that major.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 5:35 pm
by makingthemove
PeanutsNJam wrote:Yeah of course a patent agent isn't the same thing as a paralegal. The purpose of the analogy is to illustrate the reasoning that try something similar (that doesn't require law school) before going to law school and making a career out of that thing.


I think that analogy misses a HUGE point, which I believe is relevant for the OP. If someone wants to work with patent prosecution, being a Patent Agent is not "trying it," it's doing it. If you want to make a career out of patent prosecution don't need to get a JD, EVER. It is nice, but not needed. The tasks done by a Patent Agent in prosecution are the same tasks done by a Patent Attorney.

Contrast with a paralegal that wants to practice law. Paralegals hang out around attorneys. They MUST go to law school eventually. The daily tasks of a paralegal are not the same as an attorney. I would even say that the best you learn being a paralegal about being an attorney is that you get to see them working.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Fri Sep 29, 2017 11:49 pm
by pricon
makingthemove wrote:
PeanutsNJam wrote:Yeah of course a patent agent isn't the same thing as a paralegal. The purpose of the analogy is to illustrate the reasoning that try something similar (that doesn't require law school) before going to law school and making a career out of that thing.


I think that analogy misses a HUGE point, which I believe is relevant for the OP. If someone wants to work with patent prosecution, being a Patent Agent is not "trying it," it's doing it. If you want to make a career out of patent prosecution don't need to get a JD, EVER. It is nice, but not needed. The tasks done by a Patent Agent in prosecution are the same tasks done by a Patent Attorney.

Contrast with a paralegal that wants to practice law. Paralegals hang out around attorneys. They MUST go to law school eventually. The daily tasks of a paralegal are not the same as an attorney. I would even say that the best you learn being a paralegal about being an attorney is that you get to see them working.


Yeah, I've worked in law firms with lawyers for years and even lead some lawyers on projects and have long conversations with law students, but I have no confident idea what lawyers do. I feel like I have to learn the law. However, patent agents and patent prosecutors overlap significantly. For someone uncertain about pros or looking at a master's to do it, being an agent is the more reasonable exposure to it than is getting a JD. That's what I took from the analogy.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 4:52 am
by trmckenz
Before law school, I was a patent agent for four years in three different patent practices. With respect to prosecution hiring, EE is best out of the three you mentioned. CE and CS are treated as equivalents most of the time, but EE is the standard because it is broadest and most marketable.

Honestly I don't think you need grad school. Your ChemE background may exclude you from working in some very CS-focused practices, but for the most part you are employable as-is. A ChemE is like a swiss army knife - you can do work for clientele in software, hardware, mechanical arts, medical devices, etc. You can sell your story about your interests. The best bet is probably to target firms with diverse technical specialties.

My general rule is: if it's good enough for litigation, it is good enough for prosecution. Don't listen to the people who say patent prosecution sucks.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 11:09 am
by pricon
trmckenz wrote:Before law school, I was a patent agent for four years in three different patent practices. With respect to prosecution hiring, EE is best out of the three you mentioned. CE and CS are treated as equivalents most of the time, but EE is the standard because it is broadest and most marketable.

Honestly I don't think you need grad school. Your ChemE background may exclude you from working in some very CS-focused practices, but for the most part you are employable as-is. A ChemE is like a swiss army knife - you can do work for clientele in software, hardware, mechanical arts, medical devices, etc. You can sell your story about your interests. The best bet is probably to target firms with diverse technical specialties.

My general rule is: if it's good enough for litigation, it is good enough for prosecution. Don't listen to the people who say patent prosecution sucks.


I personally would feel uncomfortable with the level of scientific knowledge needed to prosecute patents given my background. I have seen chem-e patent drafters get PhDs in organic chemistry and materials science and still feel intellectually satisfied by patent prosecution. A BSChE is a blunt tool.

If I were interested in software, I could have pretty tangible selling points by creating something in my free time, as software is easy enough to learn on one's own. I am not sure how I would develop my interests in hardware outside of school, though. Part of me just wishes I had done comp-e in undergrad. You just can't confidently know your best interests at 18, as I'm sure we all know. If I can get my chem-e degree to get me into a legal position in the oil industry, I guess I would say things lined up fine one day. All my internships were in oil, and I thought it was a good industry for chem-es. Lots of fluids. Downside for innovaition work, though. It's not a relatively innovative industry. The computer industry is exciting as hell.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 6:01 pm
by makingthemove
trmckenz wrote:Your ChemE background may exclude you from working in some very CS-focused practices, but for the most part you are employable as-is. A ChemE is like a swiss army knife - you can do work for clientele in software, hardware, mechanical arts, medical devices, etc. You can sell your story about your interests. The best bet is probably to target firms with diverse technical specialties.


Agree 100% with this.

pricon wrote:I personally would feel uncomfortable with the level of scientific knowledge needed to prosecute patents given my background. I have seen chem-e patent drafters get PhDs in organic chemistry and materials science and still feel intellectually satisfied by patent prosecution. A BSChE is a blunt tool.

If I were interested in software, I could have pretty tangible selling points by creating something in my free time, as software is easy enough to learn on one's own. I am not sure how I would develop my interests in hardware outside of school, though. Part of me just wishes I had done comp-e in undergrad. You just can't confidently know your best interests at 18, as I'm sure we all know. If I can get my chem-e degree to get me into a legal position in the oil industry, I guess I would say things lined up fine one day. All my internships were in oil, and I thought it was a good industry for chem-es. Lots of fluids. Downside for innovaition work, though. It's not a relatively innovative industry. The computer industry is exciting as hell.


You're overthinking this. If what you want is to do prosecution, a ChemE undergrad should be enough as far as degrees go. Go offer your services to firms. Have a technical writing sample and a one-page resume to send around and go network. Don't get a masters degree to be marketable for prosecution. You'll be miserable during school, and I don't think at all that the masters will make you more marketable. A PhD will make you more marketable but getting a PhD for prosecution ranks reeeeally high on the scale of dumb ideas.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Mon Oct 02, 2017 9:02 am
by jhett
Prosecution:
A ChemE undergrad is usually enough to qualify you to do prosecution work for various material science and chemical companies. It will not be enough if you want to work in pharma/biotech. A PhD is pretty much required for those clients.

If you want to do a Masters, the only thing that will really expand your marketability is EE because you will be able to understand the hardware. You can easily write software patents without a CS degree - it's mostly just method flow charts and describing things in general, intuitive ways. In most cases you won't have to read any code, and if you do you can learn it on the fly via Internet resources.

Litigation:
You don't need any technical degree for IP litigation, although it helps. Most cases are EE and CS related, there are fewer chemical cases. Like I said above understanding CS is pretty easy, so EE would be the only thing that improves your marketability.

Re: CS vs. CE vs. EE Demand in Patent Prosecution? Litigation?

Posted: Thu Oct 05, 2017 7:52 pm
by elendinel
jhett wrote:Prosecution:
A ChemE undergrad is usually enough to qualify you to do prosecution work for various material science and chemical companies. It will not be enough if you want to work in pharma/biotech. A PhD is pretty much required for those clients.

If you want to do a Masters, the only thing that will really expand your marketability is EE because you will be able to understand the hardware. You can easily write software patents without a CS degree - it's mostly just method flow charts and describing things in general, intuitive ways. In most cases you won't have to read any code, and if you do you can learn it on the fly via Internet resources.

Litigation:
You don't need any technical degree for IP litigation, although it helps. Most cases are EE and CS related, there are fewer chemical cases. Like I said above understanding CS is pretty easy, so EE would be the only thing that improves your marketability.


Maybe my firm was unique but the bolded definitely was not the case at my firm; I routinely got a lot of the CS work because no one else understood it, and inherited a lot of cases from other firms where the application lacked important details because the person writing it probably didn't understand the tech well enough to ask for those details at the time of drafting. If your firm basically only works with the Snapchats of the world (i.e., with really really basic software) then this is definitely true, but there are plenty of companies these days doing complex stuff with AI/databases/data security/data compression/etc., for which you'll need more than surface-level Wiki knowledge if you want to write a good app with solid claims. I definitely don't think you need a PhD in CS the same way you need one in, say, biochem, though, so I'd at least agree on that.

OP EE > CS > CE. If you're determined to get a degree, I'd go for EE. If you want to go into lit I think you're probably fine with what you have, though.