How to become a Patent Attorney

  • Price: £5.99
  • Published: December 2015
  • Type: Business Opportunity Profile
  • Format: PDF
  • What qualifications and skills are required?
  • What are the key market issues and trends?
  • What are the main trading issues?
  • Legislation
  • Further information

Patent attorneys (also known as patent agents) are contracted by private and commercial clients to assist in obtaining patents in a certain field or industry. Patent attorneys are legally qualified professionals who must also hold appropriate scientific or technical qualifications (usually a science or engineering degree) from a university or similar institution in order to be eligible for both UK and European qualifying examinations. As patents are increasingly international, in most cases competence in European languages is also required.

Other services provided by patent attorneys include challenging a patent on behalf of a client, assisting clients accused of violating intellectual property rights and arranging for the purchase or sale of patents or the grant of licences to intellectual property rights. Patent attorneys can conduct litigation and have the right to act as advocates in the Patent County Court. Some hold additional qualifications entitling them to act as advocates in the High Court.

'Patent attorney' is a protected title, and it is an offence to practise as such without being registered with the Intellectual Property Regulation Board (IPReg).

Most patent attorney firms comprise several practising patent attorneys and non-legal support staff. Some firms also include trainee patent attorneys, qualified trade mark attorneys and para-legals (legally trained staff who are not qualified as solicitors or attorneys). It is possible for a patent attorney to establish their own firm as a sole practitioner. However, many attorneys enter into a traditional (ordinary) partnership, form a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) or start a private company with other patent or trade mark attorneys.

This profile provides information about how a patent attorney can start up and run their own firm. It describes the skills required, the training available, the current market trends and the key trading issues. It also explains the legislation that must be complied with and provides sources of further information and support.

This profile does not cover practising as a solicitor, as this is covered separately in BOP 258, Solicitors' Firm.

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