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Patent Attorney

Patent Attorneys are lawyer-scientists who understand technology and can explain it to a jury. Patent attorneys represent inventors and corporations. In a general sense, patent attorneys review advances in technology, and explain and argue differences in technology to judges, juries, and Patent Office Examiners.



There are two areas of practice for patent attorneys: patent litigation and patent prosecution.

Patent litigators are involved in disputes over patent rights. They form strategies for enforcing patent rights or defending against others seeking to enforce their patent rights. Becoming a patent litigation attorney simply requires law school graduation. Neither a technical degree nor any special exam is required. In general, lawyers become patent litigators by going to work at a law firm that handles patent litigation. Generally, however, firm seeking to hire (and train) fledgling patent litigators look for candidates who have a technical undergraduate degree.

Patent prosecutors are involved in establishing patent rights. They counsel their clients and devise strategies for protecting their intellectual property rights. They draft patent applications that explain how their client’s invention works, how it differs from previous inventions, and argue that it is worthy of patent protection. Patent attorneys involved in patent prosecution must be registered patent attorneys. The United States Patent Office is charged with the registration of patent attorneys and agents. To become a registered patent attorney, one must pass a rigorous examination, generally known as the “patent bar exam”. To be eligible to take the exam, one must have technical training – usually an undergraduate degree in engineering or certain sciences.


Educational Requirements

Becoming a patent lawyer usually takes seven years of full-time study after high school—four years of undergraduate study, followed by three years of law school. Law school applicants specializing in patents usually have a bachelor's degree in science or engineering to qualify for admission, or have passed the Fundamentals of Engineering examination.


Median Salary 2019

According to, the median salary of a Patent Lawyer in 2019 was $135,428.


Want to know more?

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USA Today

Bureau of Labor & Statistics

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From Bench to Briefs


Get Connected

Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.

American Intellectual Property Law Association

National Association for Patent Practitioners

List of Professional Organizations


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U.S. Department of Commerce

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