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Patent attorney: A techno-legal profession

A patent attorney is a techno-legal professional who represents clients in obtaining patents and in filing a lawsuit in case of an infringement by some competitor.

education Updated: Nov 09, 2011 10:36 IST

The lowdown
A patent attorney is a techno-legal professional who represents clients in obtaining patents and in filing a lawsuit in case of an infringement by some competitor.

The term is used differently in different countries. A background of science and technology, with an additional qualification in law are the basics to become a patent attorney. He or she has to understand and assimilate the technology being patented. Since patent attorneys have a degree in law, they can practice in the courts as well. On the other hand, someone with a background in science and technology, can also register and practice as a patent agent for the patent office. With more and more Indian companies investing in R&D, patent attorneys have a very bright future.

Clockwork
9am: Meeting with client to discuss the novelty, features or design of an invention
11am: Do patent searches to find out details of related inventions on websites like Delphion, Micropat, and STL etc
1.30pm: Quick lunch
2pm: Draft the patent proposal 3pm: Meet patent officials
6pm: Leave for home
7pm onwards: Read books, journals and newsletters on Indian and international patent laws and rules

The payoff
The starting salary as a trainee is somewhere between Rs10,000 to Rs15,000 per month, which increases to Rs20,000 to Rs25,000 per month when you become a regular employee. After you gain experience of three/four years, you can earn as much as Rs40,000 to Rs50,000 per month. Later in your career, you can make progress on the basis of your learning potential and performance

Skills/TRAITS
* Ability to absorb all kinds of information
* Good oratory skills, which come handy during litigation
* Analytical skills to make inferences and conclusions after studying the invention
* Creative abilities to make valuable contributions to the invention, design or software because some lawyers often end up as co-inventors – something that has happened in the West

Getting there
Gain expertise in one area – mechanics or pharmaceutical, chemistry or software or even mathematical sciences. You can pursue a bachelor’s or preferably a master’s in engineering or science. After this, go for a diploma in intellectual patent rights from a known institute or do LLB from IIT-Kharagpur where intellectual property rights is the prime focus.

Join some law firm or company as a trainee in the patent department and after gaining a year’s experience appear for the patent agent’s exam. Once you qualify that, you can join a law firm, a corporate or an outsourcing firm with a job profile, which you find the best - drafting, prosecution or litigation

Institutes and URLs
* Academy of Intellectual Property Studies, Mumbai for a PG diploma programme in patent management
www.aips.ac.in
* NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad for a PG diploma programme in patent law
www.nalsar.ac.in
* Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) for a PG diploma in IPR
www.ignou.ac.in
* National Institute of Intellectual Property Management, Nagpur www.patentoffice.nic.in/niipm/index.htm

Pros and cons
* The money is good and you can expect a good salary right at the beginning of your career
* It’s a new and emerging career, so there’s immense scope in this field
* The job is quite demanding, and may take up a lot of your personla time
* A very well-paying profession