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September 18, 2005

Patent Bar?

Reader “Civil Inactivist” sent in a request almost a week ago now. He'd like your thoughts on the value of the patent bar fro a 1L:

I have been wondering as to the relative worth of taking the patent bar? Being a first-year, and being told to take it as soon as possible, despite the ticket of the test itself and study materials, I wondered if anyone has an opinion. Is it worth it? Is it worth it to take it as soon as possible? Will it help with summer internships etc.?

Your help is appreciated!

I have no clue about this, but I'm sure someone does. All I can say is I'm sorry it took me so long to get this up!

Posted by mowabb at September 18, 2005 10:22 PM

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Tracked on September 18, 2005 10:26 PM


it means they'll be patent agents and if they plan on going into IP law, law firms will probably snap them up faster than my dog goes after stuff that gets dropped on the floor.

My IP seminar prof (who's a very, very, very successful IP lawyer - if his being decked out in Armani, Gucci, Versace and all of the other truly expensive stuff is any indication; plus, he's got a custom built hybrid!) told us that taking the patent bar and becoming a patent agent is a HUGE career and resume booster. He couldn't stress that enough.

Posted by: Katherine at September 18, 2005 11:09 PM

I don't think I'd take the patent bar if it meant not studying for 1L classes and doing well 1L year. However, it is a huge resume/career booster if you want to do IP law. It will make you stand out to IP firms.

Posted by: transmogriflaw at September 18, 2005 11:24 PM

I agree with transmogriflaw... if you can take it before school starts and pass, then it will probably be worth it to do it. I am a patent agent, and I guarentee it helped me get an IP job during my 1L summer. But, if it is going to take away from your studies during law school (or during undergrad, for that matter), then focus on getting good grades.

Grades are probably more important to an employer than a patent office registration that doesn't necessarily mean you can actually do patent work.

Posted by: Unreasonable Man at September 20, 2005 11:58 AM

Now that you're already a 1L, I suggest waiting until this summer to study for and take the Patent Bar. As I'm sure you've heard before, your first-year grades determine pretty much everything - this is unfortunately the truth. Passing the patent bar will be a boost, but not anywhere close to what you'll get for doing well your first year. Don't sweat your first summer job too much - it's not a major deal if you work for an IP firm or not. I'd suggest doing something a little different, because you'll have plenty of time to do firm work from there on out. This summer you should: 1) do something legally related (doesn't even have to take up the entire summer); 2) produce a great writing sample; 3) get some good attorney recommendations; and 4) pass the patent bar. If you really want to work for a firm you first summer anyways, the important things are going to be: 1) good grades; 2) getting your resumes & cover letters out promptly on Dec 1 (any later, and you can pretty much forget it).

I took the patent bar my first summer (last summer), and it definitely paid off for finding my second summer job, which is really what you're interested in anyways. It shows initiative, and you'll learn a great deal about patent law in the process. On top of that, when you start taking IP courses, you'll have a huge leg up on the material. First summer is second best to taking it before law school. I see no use in preparing for it at any other time (particularly during 1L) - you have enough work to do. If in the end you don't take it until after law school, you get the added benefit of your employer paying for the time & expense.

Posted by: Cat Sprint at September 22, 2005 04:50 PM

I'm not even in law school yet, so this may be an irrelevant question, but how can you pass the patent bar exam without ever having a law school class? Is it just completely engineering/science based? Also, is the patent bar exam in addition to the state bar exam for your particular state?

Posted by: CR at September 24, 2005 12:37 PM


There are two different kinds of patent professionals. Patent agents and patent attorneys. Like most people (including me), you were under the mistaken impression that you have to be a lawyer to practice patent law (you have to be a lawyer to do patent litigation or patent licensing, but there is more to patents than these areas).

Any engineering/science graduate (within certain limits) can take the patent office's registration exam (the patent bar). The patent bar isn't science based, it's just on the patent laws and regulations of the patent office.

If you want to be a patent attorney, you also have to take a state bar exam.

Posted by: Unreasonable Man at September 30, 2005 06:21 PM