Patent Law-Masters or No?

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dreman510
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Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Wed Nov 05, 2008 11:41 pm

If I am a general biology major with some research experience (1.5 years part time) and no masters, is patent law doable? Do I need a masters/how helpful is it?

simmersiz
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby simmersiz » Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:49 pm

I don't believe you need a Masters. Per Wikipedia:

A candidate must also have an adequate scientific and technical background or education to understand a client's invention. The educational requirement can be met by a bachelor's degree in a specifically enumerated major, such as Biology, Computer Science,[21] Chemistry, Microbiology, Physics, and Biomedical, Chemical, Civil, Electrical or Mechanical Engineering.[22] This is known as Category A qualification.

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uvalaw4l
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby uvalaw4l » Thu Nov 06, 2008 1:58 pm

Same boat - bio degree with 3 years of research experience. I was given the option to do patent but I chose not to - point is, I could have.

You don't need an advanced degree to do your work (most of it would be outside of your area of expertise anyways) but it's very very helpful in gaining credibility with some of your clients; because bio is the "softer" science (I say that depends on your electives :x ), it's more necessary than with other majors. I'm not sure a masters would be THAT helpful; I've been told that it's PhD or don't worry about it all.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:06 am

Bump because im curious.
I have a B.A. in biology with 2 summers and 1/2 year research experience (not intensive, no publications).
No graduate degree.
Does this put me at a disadvantage for Patent law?

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:41 am

Bump Bump...
Also, do undergrad GRADES count for patent law?

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Giles Rich
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby Giles Rich » Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:58 am

dreman510 wrote:Bump because im curious.
I have a B.A. in biology with 2 summers and 1/2 year research experience (not intensive, no publications).
No graduate degree.
Does this put me at a disadvantage for Patent law?


You will be competing with people who have PhDs, so yes it will put you at a disadvantage. Especially in law firms, where they like to show off all your degrees in order to entice clients. But that doesn't mean you won't have a shot.

I only have a BS and I do all sorts of life-science patent prosecution (as an agent). Many of the people I work with have PhDs (especially on the bio side) and have had full careers as scientists before they became patent agents/attorneys. But that can also be a disadvantage. Most of those people with PhDs and previous science carreers are only comfortable with a very small area of science, so they shy away from areas that they haven't already worked in. They also tend to be 'scientists at heart' and never really embrace the legal field as thoroughly as other attorneys.

The truth is you don't really need very much science experience to be able to draft/prosecute a patent application. As long as you are willing and open to learn new things and have a general understanding of the relevant field you can figure it out as you go. Whatever invention you are working on is (hopefully) going to be novel, so no one except the inventor should really know anything about the specific details anyways.

All of that of course assumes you are able to find a job. To address that I would say go to a very good law school. A PhD out of Franklin Pierce is not going to outcompete a BS out of Berkeley or Stanford.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:00 am

Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:Bump because im curious.
I have a B.A. in biology with 2 summers and 1/2 year research experience (not intensive, no publications).
No graduate degree.
Does this put me at a disadvantage for Patent law?


You will be competing with people who have PhDs, so yes it will put you at a disadvantage. Especially in law firms, where they like to show off all your degrees in order to entice clients. But that doesn't mean you won't have a shot.

I only have a BS and I do all sorts of life-science patent prosecution (as an agent). Many of the people I work with have PhDs (especially on the bio side) and have had full careers as scientists before they became patent agents/attorneys. But that can also be a disadvantage. Most of those people with PhDs and previous science carreers are only comfortable with a very small area of science, so they shy away from areas that they haven't already worked in. They also tend to be 'scientists at heart' and never really embrace the legal field as thoroughly as other attorneys.

The truth is you don't really need very much science experience to be able to draft/prosecute a patent application. As long as you are willing and open to learn new things and have a general understanding of the relevant field you can figure it out as you go. Whatever invention you are working on is (hopefully) going to be novel, so no one except the inventor should really know anything about the specific details anyways.

All of that of course assumes you are able to find a job. To address that I would say go to a very good law school. A PhD out of Franklin Pierce is not going to outcompete a BS out of Berkeley or Stanford.


That is my goal. For me, im hoping to get into one of GW/BU/Fordham. However, if I wind up at a place like Cardozo or Miami, will I be screwed?

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Giles Rich
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby Giles Rich » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:06 am

dreman510 wrote:That is my goal. For me, im hoping to get into one of GW/BU/Fordham. However, if I wind up at a place like Cardozo or Miami, will I be screwed?


I don't think you'll be screwed, but you are going to have to do better in school (~top 10%) out of Cardozo or Miami in order to have a shot at a good firm. You'll likely be able to find a patent attorney job somewhere out of those schools no matter what, but it might not be as desirable if you are a mediocre student.

One thing to consider is an internship with the USPTO during the summer ater your 1L year. I had a friend that did that out of a TTT and was able to land a job at a top firm based on that experience when she graduated.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:10 am

Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:That is my goal. For me, im hoping to get into one of GW/BU/Fordham. However, if I wind up at a place like Cardozo or Miami, will I be screwed?


I don't think you'll be screwed, but you are going to have to do better in school (~top 10%) out of Cardozo or Miami in order to have a shot at a good firm. You'll likely be able to find a patent attorney job somewhere out of those schools no matter what, but it might not be as desirable if you are a mediocre student.

One thing to consider is an internship with the USPTO during the summer ater your 1L year. I had a friend that did that out of a TTT and was able to land a job at a top firm based on that experience when she graduated.

I was considering that, especially after getting my acceptance to GMU. Would that be a much better school for patent law prospects? Do you know how hard it is to get a summer internship at the USPTO, and if GMU places well there?
Also, are there branch offices of the USPTO, or just the one in DC?

Leeroy Jenkins
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby Leeroy Jenkins » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:17 am

dreman510 wrote:I was considering that, especially after getting my acceptance to GMU. Would that be a much better school for patent law prospects? Do you know how hard it is to get a summer internship at the USPTO, and if GMU places well there?
Also, are there branch offices of the USPTO, or just the one in DC?

Which internship are you talkin about? There are a lot of internships you could apply for. If it's for the board/court internships, you will not only be competing against students from higher ranked schools, but the USPTO's own rank and file examiners.

There are no branch offices of the USPTO, and it isn't headquartered in DC. It's in Alexandria, Virginia.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:21 am

Lxw wrote:
dreman510 wrote:I was considering that, especially after getting my acceptance to GMU. Would that be a much better school for patent law prospects? Do you know how hard it is to get a summer internship at the USPTO, and if GMU places well there?
Also, are there branch offices of the USPTO, or just the one in DC?

Which internship are you talkin about? There are a lot of internships you could apply for. If it's for the board/court internships, you will not only be competing against students from higher ranked schools, but the USPTO's own rank and file examiners.

There are no branch offices of the USPTO, and it isn't headquartered in DC. It's in Alexandria, Virginia.

I meant the one in the DC area. My question was, is it possible to do an internship/externship through GMU in the USPTO? Basically, due to GMU's proximity to the USPTO, how hard is it to get some sort of work experience there (not even paid)?

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Giles Rich
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby Giles Rich » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:24 am

dreman510 wrote:
Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:That is my goal. For me, im hoping to get into one of GW/BU/Fordham. However, if I wind up at a place like Cardozo or Miami, will I be screwed?


I don't think you'll be screwed, but you are going to have to do better in school (~top 10%) out of Cardozo or Miami in order to have a shot at a good firm. You'll likely be able to find a patent attorney job somewhere out of those schools no matter what, but it might not be as desirable if you are a mediocre student.

One thing to consider is an internship with the USPTO during the summer ater your 1L year. I had a friend that did that out of a TTT and was able to land a job at a top firm based on that experience when she graduated.

I was considering that, especially after getting my acceptance to GMU. Would that be a much better school for patent law prospects? Do you know how hard it is to get a summer internship at the USPTO, and if GMU places well there?
Also, are there branch offices of the USPTO, or just the one in DC?


I think GMU is a very good option for patent law. I would pick that over Cardozo or Miami but not over GW, BU or Fordham. My old boss who is big-shot patent atty used to say that 1-year of patent experience in a DC firm is equivalent to 2-years anywhere else. Not sure if there is any truth to that, but GMU places well in the DC area and that is where you want to be when you are first starting out in patent law.

I don't know much about placement of interns with the USPTO, but since my friend was able to get a spot there as a 1L in a TTT with no prior patent experience, I'm guessing a top student at GMU would have a pretty good chance. I was just in a seminar with the acting USPTO director, John Doll, and he mentioned the USPTO has had an unexpected decline in earings over the last year (not sure why that's unexpected), which could result in some cuts in spending. But I'm not sure if that would affect internships.

There are no major branch offices for the USPTO outside of VA. They proposed placing some examiners in other states (e.g. Colorado) but I don't think that ever went through. I think you would have to count on being in DC area if you wanted to work for the USPTO.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:27 am

Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:
Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:That is my goal. For me, im hoping to get into one of GW/BU/Fordham. However, if I wind up at a place like Cardozo or Miami, will I be screwed?


I don't think you'll be screwed, but you are going to have to do better in school (~top 10%) out of Cardozo or Miami in order to have a shot at a good firm. You'll likely be able to find a patent attorney job somewhere out of those schools no matter what, but it might not be as desirable if you are a mediocre student.

One thing to consider is an internship with the USPTO during the summer ater your 1L year. I had a friend that did that out of a TTT and was able to land a job at a top firm based on that experience when she graduated.

I was considering that, especially after getting my acceptance to GMU. Would that be a much better school for patent law prospects? Do you know how hard it is to get a summer internship at the USPTO, and if GMU places well there?
Also, are there branch offices of the USPTO, or just the one in DC?


I think GMU is a very good option for patent law. I would pick that over Cardozo or Miami but not over GW, BU or Fordham. My old boss who is big-shot patent atty used to say that 1-year of patent experience in a DC firm is equivalent to 2-years anywhere else. Not sure if there is any truth to that, but GMU places well in the DC area and that is where you want to be when you are first starting out in patent law.

I don't know much about placement of interns with the USPTO, but since my friend was able to get a spot there as a 1L in a TTT with no prior patent experience, I'm guessing a top student at GMU would have a pretty good chance. I was just in a seminar with the acting USPTO director, John Doll, and he mentioned the USPTO has had an unexpected decline in earings over the last year (not sure why that's unexpected), which could result in some cuts in spending. But I'm not sure if that would affect internships.

There are no major branch offices for the USPTO outside of VA. They proposed placing some examiners in other states (e.g. Colorado) but I don't think that ever went through. I think you would have to count on being in DC if you wanted to work for the USPTO.

Thanks, that is very encouraging. I guess I should speak to GMU's career office about placement.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 11:38 am

Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:
Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:That is my goal. For me, im hoping to get into one of GW/BU/Fordham. However, if I wind up at a place like Cardozo or Miami, will I be screwed?


I don't think you'll be screwed, but you are going to have to do better in school (~top 10%) out of Cardozo or Miami in order to have a shot at a good firm. You'll likely be able to find a patent attorney job somewhere out of those schools no matter what, but it might not be as desirable if you are a mediocre student.

One thing to consider is an internship with the USPTO during the summer ater your 1L year. I had a friend that did that out of a TTT and was able to land a job at a top firm based on that experience when she graduated.

I was considering that, especially after getting my acceptance to GMU. Would that be a much better school for patent law prospects? Do you know how hard it is to get a summer internship at the USPTO, and if GMU places well there?
Also, are there branch offices of the USPTO, or just the one in DC?


I think GMU is a very good option for patent law. I would pick that over Cardozo or Miami but not over GW, BU or Fordham. My old boss who is big-shot patent atty used to say that 1-year of patent experience in a DC firm is equivalent to 2-years anywhere else. Not sure if there is any truth to that, but GMU places well in the DC area and that is where you want to be when you are first starting out in patent law.

I don't know much about placement of interns with the USPTO, but since my friend was able to get a spot there as a 1L in a TTT with no prior patent experience, I'm guessing a top student at GMU would have a pretty good chance. I was just in a seminar with the acting USPTO director, John Doll, and he mentioned the USPTO has had an unexpected decline in earings over the last year (not sure why that's unexpected), which could result in some cuts in spending. But I'm not sure if that would affect internships.

There are no major branch offices for the USPTO outside of VA. They proposed placing some examiners in other states (e.g. Colorado) but I don't think that ever went through. I think you would have to count on being in DC area if you wanted to work for the USPTO.

Does the top 10% requirement still apply to GMU (forgetting the current state of the economy, because thats impossible to predict)? Or do you have a little more leeway for patent law from GMU?

simmersiz
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby simmersiz » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:00 pm

Thought I'd pass along some info...

I recently talked to someone from the USPTO and he informed me that they have cut internships due to budget cuts.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:04 pm

simmersiz wrote:Thought I'd pass along some info...

I recently talked to someone from the USPTO and he informed me that they have cut internships due to budget cuts.

Does that include unpaid internships? And theyve gotten rid of them, or reduced them?

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Giles Rich
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby Giles Rich » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:27 pm

dreman510 wrote:Does the top 10% requirement still apply to GMU (forgetting the current state of the economy, because thats impossible to predict)? Or do you have a little more leeway for patent law from GMU?


Honestly, ~10% was sort of an arbitrary cutoff that I've heard some firms make. I don't really know how it applies to individual schools or firms. The one firm I have experience with (Foley), where I had a friend that did the recruiting for them, had a 10% cutoff for GW and 15% for Georgetown (exceptions made for PhDs). I thought that was crazy and told him that, but he said they just get innundated with applications and have to do it that way. GW and Georgetown apparently were their pedigree schools, and other schools feed into other firms. I'm sure GMU has some firms they work closely with.

If you are determined, I wouldn't take too much stalk in cutoffs and requirements. Personally, if I did, I would never have my job right now (in which I am way underqualified). Almost every professional job I've ever got has been because someone else pushed for me to get it (despite concerns of inexperience/lack of advanced degrees...). I know it's tough starting out, but it really all boils down to networking and using lower jobs to leverage better ones. If you are able to land a job before school, in school or out of school and impress people you work with you can use that to move up, even without the most impressive educational background.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Fri Feb 13, 2009 12:28 pm

Giles Rich wrote:
dreman510 wrote:Does the top 10% requirement still apply to GMU (forgetting the current state of the economy, because thats impossible to predict)? Or do you have a little more leeway for patent law from GMU?


Honestly, ~10% was sort of an arbitrary cutoff that I've heard some firms make. I don't really know how it applies to individual schools or firms. The one firm I have experience with (Foley), where I had a friend that did the recruiting for them, had a 10% cutoff for GW and 15% for Georgetown (exceptions made for PhDs). I thought that was crazy and told him that, but he said they just get innundated with applications and have to do it that way. GW and Georgetown apparently were their pedigree schools, and other schools feed into other firms. I'm sure GMU has some firms they work closely with.

If you are determined, I wouldn't take too much stalk in cutoffs and requirements. Personally, if I did, I would never have my job right now (in which I am way underqualified). Almost every professional job I've ever got has been because someone else pushed for me to get it (despite concerns of inexperience/lack of advanced degrees...). I know it's tough starting out, but it really all boils down to networking and using lower jobs to leverage better ones. If you are able to land a job before school, in school or out of school and impress people you work with you can use that to move up, even without the most impressive educational background.

Thank you for that, very helpful.

lordarka
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby lordarka » Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:56 pm

A BS in Biology is more than sufficient for many aspects of patent law practice. I will be litigating patents with a Vault10 firm. In a prior life, I was an associate scientist (biology) for a few years, and earned a B.S. in general biology from a strong life sciences program at the University of California. Honestly, I think your law school pedigree will matter a lot more than your absence of a masters, and among the very talented patent litigators I work with, only a small minority even have undergraduate science degrees. Perhaps in other more specialized areas, graduate experience in the sciences will be helpful. However, I hardly think it's a make-or-break requirement.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Sat Feb 14, 2009 7:37 pm

lordarka wrote:A BS in Biology is more than sufficient for many aspects of patent law practice. I will be litigating patents with a Vault10 firm. In a prior life, I was an associate scientist (biology) for a few years, and earned a B.S. in general biology from a strong life sciences program at the University of California. Honestly, I think your law school pedigree will matter a lot more than your absence of a masters, and among the very talented patent litigators I work with, only a small minority even have undergraduate science degrees. Perhaps in other more specialized areas, graduate experience in the sciences will be helpful. However, I hardly think it's a make-or-break requirement.

Thanks Lord. Will they check my undergrad science grades?

ehshornet
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby ehshornet » Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:38 am

dreman510 wrote:
lordarka wrote:A BS in Biology is more than sufficient for many aspects of patent law practice. I will be litigating patents with a Vault10 firm. In a prior life, I was an associate scientist (biology) for a few years, and earned a B.S. in general biology from a strong life sciences program at the University of California. Honestly, I think your law school pedigree will matter a lot more than your absence of a masters, and among the very talented patent litigators I work with, only a small minority even have undergraduate science degrees. Perhaps in other more specialized areas, graduate experience in the sciences will be helpful. However, I hardly think it's a make-or-break requirement.

Thanks Lord. Will they check my undergrad science grades?


So, I worked at a large law firm in downtown Pittsburgh this past summer, and I had the opportunity to talk with several patent attorneys to get their perspective on the Masters question and the undergrad science grades. He said they really don't look for graduate degrees for students with engineering degrees. For people in Chem and Bio, one of the things they check for in an initial review is if they have a Masters of PhD. If one doesn't, a flag goes up. However, extremely good grades in undergrad can compensate for the lack of degree. He said the degree was more for showing clients than for actually using the information gained from the degree. The extra info can help, but is not needed to write a patent.

As a chem major, he said my grades could compensate for a lack of a degree, but he said unless I had an aversion to getting the masters degree, I should look into joint degree options. Illinois was the only one that had an established JD/MS in Chem joint degree, but I asked a lot of law schools if I could establish one and some of them allowed it through their ad hoc joint degrees. To help you out, UMN, UF, Vanderbilt, UCLA, and UC Hastings all allowed me to create one. So even if you arent going for the chem masters, you prob can create one with w/e hard science you want. There is a benefit that comes along with the joint degree too. Some schools will pay you to be a TA for undergraduate science courses, so you can earn some extra cash while obtaining the degree. Also, most schools will waive the tuition at the masters school, so you are only giving up a little extra time, while making money doing it.

Remember this is only one perspective from a law firm, and they are usually ranked in the top ten, but I do think the advice is worth considering. Good luck! It's a tough decision. I toyed with the idea for several months.

ehshornet
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby ehshornet » Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:41 am

Oh I forgot to mention. He did say work experience could also compensate for lack of a degree and lower grades in undergrad. Also, go to the highest school you can get in. I asked him if he would rather see some one from Pitt (since the firm was in Pittsburgh) or from a higher ranked school, and he specifically mentioned that he would rather see someone from a school like GW than from someone at Pitt, even though they would still consider the person from Pitt.

atreyu
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby atreyu » Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:58 am

ehshornet wrote:
dreman510 wrote:
lordarka wrote:A BS in Biology is more than sufficient for many aspects of patent law practice. I will be litigating patents with a Vault10 firm. In a prior life, I was an associate scientist (biology) for a few years, and earned a B.S. in general biology from a strong life sciences program at the University of California. Honestly, I think your law school pedigree will matter a lot more than your absence of a masters, and among the very talented patent litigators I work with, only a small minority even have undergraduate science degrees. Perhaps in other more specialized areas, graduate experience in the sciences will be helpful. However, I hardly think it's a make-or-break requirement.

Thanks Lord. Will they check my undergrad science grades?


So, I worked at a large law firm in downtown Pittsburgh this past summer, and I had the opportunity to talk with several patent attorneys to get their perspective on the Masters question and the undergrad science grades. He said they really don't look for graduate degrees for students with engineering degrees. For people in Chem and Bio, one of the things they check for in an initial review is if they have a Masters of PhD. If one doesn't, a flag goes up. However, extremely good grades in undergrad can compensate for the lack of degree. He said the degree was more for showing clients than for actually using the information gained from the degree. The extra info can help, but is not needed to write a patent.

As a chem major, he said my grades could compensate for a lack of a degree, but he said unless I had an aversion to getting the masters degree, I should look into joint degree options. Illinois was the only one that had an established JD/MS in Chem joint degree, but I asked a lot of law schools if I could establish one and some of them allowed it through their ad hoc joint degrees. To help you out, UMN, UF, Vanderbilt, UCLA, and UC Hastings all allowed me to create one. So even if you arent going for the chem masters, you prob can create one with w/e hard science you want. There is a benefit that comes along with the joint degree too. Some schools will pay you to be a TA for undergraduate science courses, so you can earn some extra cash while obtaining the degree. Also, most schools will waive the tuition at the masters school, so you are only giving up a little extra time, while making money doing it.

Remember this is only one perspective from a law firm, and they are usually ranked in the top ten, but I do think the advice is worth considering. Good luck! It's a tough decision. I toyed with the idea for several months.


Would a bachelor's in physics be treated like an engineering degree? meaning less need for a masters?

ehshornet
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby ehshornet » Sun Feb 15, 2009 12:11 pm

atreyu wrote:Would a bachelor's in physics be treated like an engineering degree? meaning less need for a masters?


I'm not 100% positive he said this, but I faintly remember him saying physics was included with the engineering degree category. I was mainly listening to hear what he had to say about chemistry. I remember him specifically mentioning only chemistry and biology as the two degrees where he thought a masters was worth considering.

dreman510
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Re: Patent Law-Masters or No?

Postby dreman510 » Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:28 pm

ehshornet wrote:
atreyu wrote:Would a bachelor's in physics be treated like an engineering degree? meaning less need for a masters?


I'm not 100% positive he said this, but I faintly remember him saying physics was included with the engineering degree category. I was mainly listening to hear what he had to say about chemistry. I remember him specifically mentioning only chemistry and biology as the two degrees where he thought a masters was worth considering.

Thanks for that info. I think a masters is unfortunately, out of the question. My undergrad science grades are nothing special, with two C's, and the rest A's and B's. I dont know what the lawyer you spoke to considered good grades, but I assume I dont have it.
I did research for 2 summers plus a half year while in school-do you think that qualifies for work experience?
If I went to a school like GW/GMU with strong patent programs, and did a significant patent internship my first summer, do you think that would help?
Or should I just give up on the patent field?

Edit: Also, are there any schools that offer joint JD/MS in biology programs?




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