If I cannot take patent bar, what's my prospect of pursuing an IP career in the US

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If I cannot take patent bar, what's my prospect of pursuing an IP career in the US

Postby ihenry » Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:32 pm

Heyy TLS, long time no see!

I've been out of this law school world for a while, but last month I received a surprise T13 offer, which again put me in the to-go-or-not-to-go delimma. I have a solid background in computer science and wanted to be an IP lawyer.

As a foreign student with no background in the US I heard it's practically not possible to take the patent bar without a green card. Two or three years ago a knowledgeable TLS user explained to me that it's actually either green card or USPTO recognized patent related work experience. I'm not sure if how I can get a patent job in the U.S. empty handed and it's probably not feasible timing wise.

So if I just go to the law school and graduate straight away I'm not eligible to take the patent bar, am I correct? Then without patent bar, what is my prospect in IP field, CS related? I was under the impression that IP is a job-seekers market because of the shortage of qualified candidates, but it seems the proliferation of opportunities is concentrated mostly on patent related jobs? Without a patent bar, do I still face the optimistic job market in the IP and possibly get a well paying job in patent or other IP fields as a foreigner ?

Background: USPTO-recognized CS degree in a top Asian university, solid work experience in software engineering. This is part of my choice between continuing the CS career and entering the legal profession, so if you have opinion on this in general I'm also most grateful to hear out. Thank you.


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Re: If I cannot take patent bar, what's my prospect of pursuing an IP career in the US

Postby jhett » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:53 am

Are you willing to become an IP lawyer in your own country? Seems like the easiest option.

If you come to the US just to do law school, you can still get hired for patent work (or any other kind of legal work, for that matter). However, that firm will have to sponsor you. Sponsorship is more difficult nowadays with the anti-immigrant stance of the administration. Even though there is more demand in the patent field than in other legal fields, the overall supply still exceeds the demand, and given a choice a firm will likely want to hire someone who does not need to be sponsored.

Unless you have a very large scholarship, there is a huge financial risk to come to the US for law school without any pre-existing relationship with an employer.

Do you know anyone from your country who had become a patent lawyer (or a lawyer in general) in the US? They would be able to give you better advice about your specific situation.


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Re: If I cannot take patent bar, what's my prospect of pursuing an IP career in the US

Postby markdighton » Mon Feb 26, 2018 3:41 pm

Close, but not exactly correct. You have to have at least a work visa to take the US Patent Office Registration Exam. (Work "experience" alone won't suffice. You need a visa.) Or a green card (permanent resident alien status) or citizenship, of course.

But with an in-demand degree and background (such as Comp Sci), you shouldn't have too much trouble finding a firm that will hire you and sponsor you for the work visa, which will allow you to take the Exam. In this field, we have LOTS of foreign-educated patent practitioners, so the law firms and corporations are used to dealing with that. If you've got the right technical background, they'll likely trust that you will pass the Exam when the time comes.

The previous respondent is correct that the Trump administration has put all of our immigration policies into question, but so far we've seen no effect from that in this space. (If someone knows differently, I'd love to hear, as I'm dealing with similar situations all the time.) And they're mostly talking about encouraging the immigration of skilled foreigners, so I doubt that there will be much impact here.

Mark Dighton, Admin. Director
Patent Office Exam Course
PLI (Practising Law Institute)

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