The Patent Bar

A common question confronting students interested in the intellectual property law field is whether one needs to take the patent bar exam in order to be an intellectual property lawyer.

The answer turns on the definition of intellectual property lawyer. Intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, and related matters. It includes prosecution (securing protection), litigation, and the rendering of advice. One definition of an intellectual property lawyer is "anyone who does any of these things". By that definition, one need not take the patent bar exam to be an intellectual property lawyer. Simplified, the patent bar exam is only necessary if you want to be able to represent inventors before the U.S. Patent Office. If one plans only to do trademark or copyright work, or only to do patent litigation (and not prosecution), the patent bar exam is not required.

On the other hand, a student who wants to be able to handle all types of intellectual property law cases, including patent prosecutions, will want to take the patent bar exam. Note that a student does not have to be a licensed attorney at the time of the exam, and in fact, some professionals think that it is wise for a student interested in practicing patent law to take the exam long before graduating from law school.

To be eligible to take the patent bar exam, one must have earned a bachelor’s degree in any one of the following areas of study:

  • Aeronautical Engineering
  • Aeronautical Engineering
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Agricultural Engineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Biology
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Botany
  • Botany
  • Ceramic Engineering
  • Ceramic Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Computer Science
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Electrochemical Engineering
  • Electrochemical Engineering
  • Electronics Technology
  • Electronics Technology
  • Engineering Physics
  • Engineering Physics
  • Food Technology
  • Food Technology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • General Engineering
  • General Engineering
  • Geological Engineering
  • Geological Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Marine Technology
  • Marine Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Metallurgical Engineering
  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology
  • Mining Engineering
  • Mining Engineering
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Nuclear Engineering
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Petroleum Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physics
  • Physics
  • Textile Technology
  • Textile Technology

Or have the following:

  • 24 credits in Physics;
  • 8 credits in Chemistry or Physics, plus 24 credits in Biology;
  • 30 credits in Chemistry;
  • 8 credits in Chemistry or Physics, plus 32 credits in Science; or
  • practical engineering experience, plus passing the Fundamentals of Engineering Test administered by the applicant’s State Board of Engineering Examiners

More detailed information about the exam (locations, format, cost, duration, annual deadlines, etc.,) can be found at a United States Patent and Trademark Office

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