Becoming a Patent Attorney: A Guide

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Becoming a patent attorney is a rigorous process and requires dedication from those interested in this field. Patent attorneys are professionally trained to represent inventors and business clients in intellectual property disputes before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patent attorneys must have a strong understanding of the patent application process, patent law and business.


Those interested in becoming a patent attorney must pursue a degree in law from an accredited college or university. In addition, patent attorneys must obtain a degree in science or engineering. This can be done by either having a degree in an engineering or science field prior to law school or attending law school to obtain a Juris Doctor (JD) degree and then later obtaining a degree in one of the sciences.

Which undergraduate degree is best for patent law? A degree in a scientific or engineering field is best for patent law because it will provide a solid foundation for understanding the technical details behind the patents for which attorneys will be responsible. Engineering, computer science, biochemistry, biology, and physics are all common undergraduate degrees for patent attorneys.


In addition to a law degree and a degree in a scientific or engineering field, patent attorneys must have a minimum of two years of experience with patent law. Patent attorneys must understand the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), have knowledge of patent applications and the USPTO process, understand patent law and have knowledge of other areas of the law, such as contract and business law.

Bar Exam

The patent bar exam is a requirement for patent attorneys. The exam consists of two sections and applicants must pass both sections to be able to be granted the title of patent attorney. The first section is the patent law and rules exam, which is a two-hour multiple-choice exam that tests applicants’ knowledge of patent laws and rules. The second section is the patent practice exam, which is four hours long and tests applicants’ knowledge of the USPTO processes and procedures.

Is the patent bar exam hard? The patent bar exam is considered to be a difficult exam, with a passing rate of only 60 percent. To pass the exam, applicants must have a strong understanding of the patent law, processes and procedures.

Starting a Career

Once applicants have passed the patent bar exam, they can begin their patent attorney career by working for a firm that specializes in patent law or working for the USPTO as a patent examiner. Patent attorneys can also open their own practice.


To become a patent attorney, applicants must pursue a degree in law and science or engineering, have two years of experience with patent law and pass the patent bar exam. With the right qualifications, dedication and experience, becoming a patent attorney is a rewarding career.

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