Patent attorney

Patent attorneys advise clients on how to apply for patents on new inventions, designs or processes.

Average salary (a year)

£23,000 Starter

to

£100,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 39 a week

You could work

evenings occasionally

How to become a patent attorney

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

University

You'll usually need a degree in a scientific, engineering, mathematical or technical subject. A postgraduate qualification in science or engineering may give you an extra advantage.

Once you finish your course, you can apply to work as a trainee in a patent office and study for professional exams while you work. It usually takes a minimum of 2 years to qualify.

You may be able to take a postgraduate award in law or intellectual property law, which can count towards qualification as a patent attorney. Many patent attorney trainees are sent on one of these courses by their employers.

If you do a course that covers intellectual property or patent law, it may exempt you from some of the professional training.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

Work

You could start your career by finding work as a technical assistant or trainee patent attorney. This may be in a firm of attorneys, or in an industrial patent department. Once working, you would take further training to qualify. This route can take between 4 and 6 years.

Direct application

You may be able to find work without a scientific or engineering degree if you've got high-level technical experience in industry. This may also apply if you're a qualified solicitor with experience of working in intellectual property rights.

More information

Registration

Career tips

It may help in some jobs if you can read French and German to a reasonable level, as clients often want advice about European patents, which can be prepared in English, French or German.

Further information

You can find more details about working in intellectual property rights from The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • knowledge of English language
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • active listening skills
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • meeting inventors or manufacturers 
  • searching existing patents to check the invention or design is original
  • advising about the chances of being granted a patent
  • writing a detailed legal description of the invention or design - known as a patent draft
  • applying for patents to the UK Intellectual Property Office or European Patent Office
  • answering questions from patent examiners
  • advising clients whose patent rights may have been broken
  • representing clients if a case comes to court
  • advising on other issues like design rights and copyright
  • keeping up-to-date with intellectual property law
  • coaching new trainees

Working environment

You could work in a court, in an office or at a client's business.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become an associate or partner in a private practice firm. 

In industry, you could move into management or research and development. You could also choose to become a patent examiner with the UK Intellectual Property Office or European Patent Office.

You could become a European patent attorney and work internationally.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a patent attorney right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Diploma Engineering Diploma 3

  • Provider: MANCHESTER COLLEGE (THE)
  • Start date: 16 September 2019
  • Location: Manchester

Mechanical Engineering (C&G 2850) Craft Route

  • Provider: GLOUCESTERSHIRE COLLEGE
  • Start date: 02 September 2020
  • Location: Gloucestershire

JobsIn the United Kingdom

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