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   Is becoming a patent agent a smart move?
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   Author  Topic: Is becoming a patent agent a smart move?  (Read 14909 times)
Jackie Smith
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Is becoming a patent agent a smart move?
« on: Dec 10th, 2007, 11:35am »
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I have a BS in biotechnology and only 1-2 years of relevant work experience doing primarily molecular biology work. I was interested in taking the exam to become a patent agent. How realistic are my chances of finding a job afterwards, and what salary could I expect? Huh
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BotchedExperiment
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Re: Is becoming a patent agent a smart move?
« Reply #1 on: Dec 10th, 2007, 1:22pm »
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There are many factors that will determine whether you'll get a job; e.g. are you willing to move, are you stuck on a certain salary, are you willing to sit in on law school classes to make contacts, are you willing to repeatedly cold-call any firm within a day's drive from you, etc.
 
If you're smart, amiable, and driven and you can keep working where you are for the next year, you probably have a good chance of getting a job.
 
It took me about a year to stuy for the patent bar, develop contacts, and build my own patent business such that it more than replaced my previous salary.
 
Unless you wind up in-house somewhere or work for a life science boutique firm you're unlikely to do much biotech/life science work.
 
I have a PhD in molecular biology/biochemistry, and what I've found is that the biotech work is highly coveted by members of a firm and very little of it trickles down to patent agents.  Even when an attorney is new and doesn't have any biotech background, they will get their choice of work over an experienced agent with a PhD.
 
As for salaries, again, there are many factors, but nation-wide the range seems to be about 60 to 90 k/year.
 
Unsolicited input:
 
As for the work itself, I find it easier than basic research, but I work "harder" as an agent.  The number of hours I work now is less than when I was a graduate student, but now, when I'm working, the goal is to be working every minute (uh, except when I'm posting here).  So, be prepared to work harder than you probably are now...
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Dr. Talk
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Re: Is becoming a patent agent a smart move?
« Reply #2 on: Dec 10th, 2007, 8:06pm »
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Ditto what Botched said.
 
Be prepared to work your 70 hours a week and to fight for work from the attorneys.  Also, be aware that senior attorneys will want to review your work before it goes out the door, which will eat into your billables.
 
Oh yeah, and billiables.  Your pay may depend on what gets billed to the client.  If you don't bill it out, you may get paid less (ofcourse if you bill out alot, you get paid more!).
 
National average for a patent agent is around $80K.
 
As a patent agent, you will spend about 90% of your time writing.  Writing patents.  Writing office actions.  And you'll spend about 10% of your time reading.  If you are ok with this, then go for it.
 
Given a choice, I would have rather stayed in engineering.  Solid salary, paid vacation, no billings to worry about, and its all about doing the work instead of the PAPERwork.
 
Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I like writing more than anything else?
2. Do I hate interaction with people?
3. Am I unconcerned about a salary that fluctuates?
 
If you answered yes to these, then a patent agent job is for you.
 
PS
Today was a bad day at the firm.  Can you tell?
 
Standard disclaimer:
This is just my opinion.  No actual facts were used in the forming of this opinion.  I reserve the right to change my mind without notice.  Your mileage may vary.  Do not stand forward of the white line while the bus is in motion.  Close cover before striking.
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Standard disclaimer:
This is just my opinion. No actual facts were used in the forming of this opinion. I reserve the right to change my mind without notice. Your mileage may vary. Do not stand f
zethus25
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Re: Is becoming a patent agent a smart move?
« Reply #3 on: Dec 18th, 2007, 12:19pm »
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If I could do it all over again I would not have become a patent agent.  Go to law school full time instead.  Don't worry about the school loans.  First year attorney's are getting paid around $165K in NY.  Salaries are on the rise every year.You could easily pay off your loans with that salary.  Plus, you'll have ridiculously high paying summer associate positions to help you pay off those tuition bills.  The cost of law school isn't that bad compared to what firms are paying these days.
 
Patent Agents get ****d daily at big law firms.  Then, you'll come out of law school tired from getting home at 11pm for 4 years, while all your competition (full time students) will be fresh and rested and ready to work when they get out.  Unlike you,  you'll just want regular hours and some of your life back.  You won't want to compete with a bunch of stuck up, rich first year associates that never worked as hard as you.  Actually, for some of them, that will be their very first job in life.  How could anyone compete with kids willing to work all night every day, plus weekends.  
 
 This is what becoming a patent agent gets you.  It's gives the edge to the full timers when you become an tired associate.  If I could go back, I would do law school full time and give the full time students a run for their money.
 
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fdjdhfl
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Re: Is becoming a patent agent a smart move?
« Reply #4 on: Dec 19th, 2007, 8:53am »
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As a patent agent myself at a large IP firm, I can say that it is NOT worth being a patent agent/technical advisor for a private law firm for the ideas mentioned above.  We, as a whole, it seems, are treated like garbage.  A simple chart if I may with patent agent on left, brand new associate on right:
 
pay:   salary          salary x 2
bonus: none         anything billed over say 1800 hrs
raise: 0-2% yearly   not sure, but it has to be rather good
sign in bonus: $0     $5,000
relocation bonus: $0    $5,000
laptop/pda/smartphone: by petition practically begging why you should get one      associate: no problems
choice of work: get thrown the ones no one wants to do, plus the hardest ones geared towards your major      associate his pick
 
Just go straight to law school and spare yourself the pain.  I'm going to law school soon myself.
 
 
 
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