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Becoming a Patent Agent/Lawyer
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   From academia to IP
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   Author  Topic: From academia to IP  (Read 2861 times)
vrglprc
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From academia to IP
« on: Sep 6th, 2006, 2:54pm »
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I'm a PhD and faculty member at an ivy league university in my mid-30's, making a base salary of about $70k.  My area of focus is in neuroscience, including expertise in molecular biology and biotechnology.
 
I'm becoming unhappy with my current career (time pressures of doing research and teaching, obtaining grants, unfavorable workload-to-salary ratio, etc.) and am looking for a new direction.  Would life as a patent agent be something worth pursuing?  Could I have a more reasonable workload while also earning a good salary?  Would I resent being under the thumb of patent attorneys (some of you patent agents out there sound kind of bitter)?  Are good jobs even all that easy to come by?  Would my background (6+ years of post-PhD research experience at ivy league institutions) be an advantage as a job applicant?  Would it make me a better patent agent?
 
Thanks in advance for your frank advice.
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vrglprc
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Re: From academia to IP
« Reply #1 on: Sep 6th, 2006, 3:45pm »
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Some more probing:
 
Should I take the patent bar (while still employed in academia), then look for a patent agent job to see if I get anywhere?  Or should I try for a job in an advisory/consultant (?) role with an IP firm or biotech company, getting trained in the field that way, then take the patent bar?  (In other words, does it work that way?)
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Isaac
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Re: From academia to IP
« Reply #2 on: Sep 6th, 2006, 4:18pm »
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The patent bar is not a huge investment in time or preparation. Preparation time is on the order of several hours per night over several months. Many people pass the thing without having any patent law experience. I would suggest taking preparing to take the patent bar while you explore your opportunities and if you finish your preparation prior to finding a job that you then go ahead and get the exam out of the way.
« Last Edit: Sep 6th, 2006, 4:18pm by Isaac » IP Logged

Isaac
chemichael
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Re: From academia to IP
« Reply #3 on: Sep 6th, 2006, 5:53pm »
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I made the exact transsition you are speaking of, although I was teaching at small schools doing a bit of research.  I started law school in 2003 and a couple of months later had a part-time position as a scientific advisor while I finished out the academic year at the university I was at.  The two worlds are like night and day (probably less so for you coming from your current situation).  However, I am glad I made the switch.  I enjoy my new career and find it much more challenging than teaching.  Isaac's suggestion is a good one if you have time to prepare for it.  You will better be able to market yourself if you have passed the bar.  That being said, because of your unique situation as a professor, you may be able to pick up some part-time work while you finish up your commitments to the university.  This allows your employer to evaluate you and you can get some exeprience to see if the field is right for you.
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Patent Agent
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Re: From academia to IP
« Reply #4 on: Sep 7th, 2006, 7:46am »
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Back Away!
Run!
Never look back!
Being a patent agent sucks!
 
The two earlier responses are from attorneys.
I'm assuming you don't want to go to law school.
If you don't want to go to law school then don't touch this career.
 
You might make more money than academia in the short run ... but as an agent you'll hit an income ceiling fairly quickly. That ceiling will be a bit higher than your current salary but lower than that of successful older professors. But the money won't matter ... it's the lack of dignity that bites.
 
You'll find little or no success in this career as an agent. Attorneys will put you to work cleaning up missing parts issues, repairing their 35USC112 mistakes, briefing them ad nauseam on the smallest matters and then sidelining you when a decision must be made.  I'll translate all that ... you'll be an errand boy! You'll have the intellectual challenges of a floor sweeper!
 
Has this bitter agent answered your question?
 
DON"T LISTEN TO ATTORNEYS ON THE MATTER OF BEING AN AGENT!
 
There, if I've saved one soul from this fire then my life may not have been wasted.
 
Patent Agent
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