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   Patent agent in paralegal category?
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   Author  Topic: Patent agent in paralegal category?  (Read 2703 times)
Guest890
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Patent agent in paralegal category?
« on: Oct 16th, 2007, 8:12pm »
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I am a patent agent with 2+ years of EE experience.  
 
I recently interview with a large GP firm, with about 15 patent attorneys and 2 patent agents.  During the interview I was told that the firm categorizes patent agents as paralegals, and accordingly, the compensation structure and benefits are in line with the paralegals (although the salary would be higher than an average paralegal, I assume).
 
I think I might get an offer from the firm, and we haven't discussed any compensation scheme yet.
 
Is it customary to treat patent agents as a dignified / experienced paralegal? My current firm treats me at par with any other patent attorneys (although currently my salary is slightly less than an entry level attorney).  
 
Or may be I am just overreacting!!
 
Thanks in advance.
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pentazole
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Re: Patent agent in paralegal category?
« Reply #1 on: Oct 16th, 2007, 8:29pm »
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Sounds bogus to me.  A patent agent is not a paralegal, and if you're classified as such good luck getting any kind of independence.
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Wiscagent
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Re: Patent agent in paralegal category?
« Reply #2 on: Oct 16th, 2007, 8:48pm »
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"the compensation structure and benefits are in line with the paralegals"
 
I would want to know what that means.  Would you be paid straight salary?  Would you be concerned about billable hours, or would you just put in 40 hours per week?  Overtime?  Vacation?  Bonus?  Bringing in new clients?  Raises?  Promotions?  Involvement with litigation, appeals, interferences, opinions, conducting searches?
 
If the whole situation is appealing to you, do you care if they classify you as an apprentice custodian or as a senior manager?  Id be less concerned with the label and more concerned with what is inside the package.
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Richard Tanzer
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pentazole
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Re: Patent agent in paralegal category?
« Reply #3 on: Oct 17th, 2007, 11:46am »
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While what Mr. Tanger is saying is logical, you don't want to be stuck as some attorney's shadow forever if you want to establish yourself in the field.
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Elektros
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Re: Patent agent in paralegal category?
« Reply #4 on: Oct 22nd, 2007, 7:29pm »
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We sign the papers we write. Paralegals don't. End of story.
 
It all depends on whether you can live with being characterised as a lower level employee. Generally, law firms categorise everyone into professionals or staff. We are professionals in 99% of firms, but it sounds like they want to make you staff. Staff generally have worse terms of employment, for example usually much stricter on hours and vacations.  
 
Even if there is normally little difference in actual pay between those of the paralegals who have BS degrees versus agents, the former usually only have staff benefits and the latter are employed as professionals.  
 
The exceptions, where agents aren't considered professionals, occur AFAIK entirely in general practice firms that usually suffer under the additional disability of having an entirely different culture than patent law firms.  Such firms usually don't understand patent attorneys, much less patent agents.  
 
I would be vary wary of such a position. They may refuse to let you sign your work, and it could be depressing to be on the staff side of the great divide.
 
Alun Palmer
 
Patent Agent
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