Patent Agent Career
The MS in Patent Law and the Certificate in Patent Prosecution are not accepting or considering applications.
Patent agents work with inventors, researchers, and attorneys to evaluate an invention disclosure, asses patentability, draft a fileable patent application, and analyze and respond to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Actions. And in today’s high technology world, one in which economies are increasingly dependent upon innovative products that must be legally protected, usually through patents, patent agents are more important than ever.
Yet, despite an exponential increase in new patent filings, the number of new patent practitioners—patent lawyers and patent agents—registering with the USPTO has remained steady. Therefore, there’s not only a growing demand for qualified patent practitioners—as evidenced by attractive salaries for patent agents—but that demand is expected to grow in the future as companies will have to continue to rely heavily on high-value, high-tech ideas—and protecting those ideas—to effectively compete in the global marketplace.
In addition to a very competitive starting salary and the strong likelihood of growing demand, a career as a patent agent is also attractive for several other reasons:
- Patent agents do not spend three years in law school, yet are just as qualified as an attorney to prepare and prosecute patent applications.
- Patent agents are registered with the USPTO—a federal bar—so they enjoy more career mobility than an attorney who is licensed in only one state jurisdiction.
- Companies and law firms often prefer patent agents to patent lawyers, because of the patent agent’s greater technical expertise, lower salary requirements, and equivalent ability to practice at the USPTO.
Patent agents also enjoy options as to the type of work environment they find most rewarding, as patent agents can work in the intellectual property groups at law firms, in legal departments of corporations that conduct research and development, or in the technology transfer offices of research universities. Additionally, they can own their own private practices, or work at the Patent Office as patent examiners. Patent agents also have the option to work in either the United States or abroad. For STEM Ph.D.'s, intellectual property is the most common alternate career path.