Learn in detail about Patent Attorney and how to become one!

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Patent attorney

Patent attorney is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing an opposition. The term is used differently in different countries, and thus may or may not require the same legal qualifications as a general legal practitioner.

In India, a person registered to practice before Indian Patent Office is called a “Registered Patent Agent” or simply “Patent agent”. The Indian Patent Law specifically does not mention the designation of “Patent Attorney”. The Indian Patent Agent can thus be considered the counterpart of the Patent Attorney in Australia, EPO or Japan.

At the outset, it is important to understand that the term ‘Patent Attorney’ does not find a place in any Statute in India. In fact, a patent attorney is usually used interchangeably with a patent agent. However, an attorney is an advocate. By virtue of this, a patent attorney is an individual who is entitled to deal with patent litigation by virtue of holding a law degree. A patent attorney or patent lawyer is an advocate. This means that an individual who has a law degree and has enrolled with a State Bar Council is an advocate who can deal with patent litigation and is hence a patent attorney. It is important to note here that a patent attorney does not necessarily posses a degree in science, technology or engineering.

What do Patent Attorneys do?

Essentially, they are legal agents who act for clients like creators or companies to help them obtain a patent, deal with patent infringement or get legal advice on other areas related to intellectual property law. Patent attorneys use their specialist knowledge to advise the client on the likelihood of getting a patent or lead the process of applying for and securing a patent.

It isn’t just about the new patents. Patent attorneys will spend much of their time renewing or enforcing existing trademarks, patents or copyright. They might also be involved in the transfer or sale of patents.

Patent attorneys are a select crew: there are only around 2,000 patent attorneys in the India.

In Simpler term, the role of a patent attorney is the same as the role of an advocate. Thus, a patent attorney can specifically deal with patent litigation. This means that a patent attorney represents patent cases in the courts. It is important to note that a patent attorney cannot file for a patent. This means that a patent attorney is not entitled to do patent prosecution, only the litigation aspect of patents can be handled by him.

Where do Patent Attorneys Work?

The natural habitat of a patent attorney is a specialist patent attorney firm. Alternatively, they might be employed in the IP or patent departments of large companies as in-house patent attorneys. Around 80% of patent attorneys are found in private practices.

What’s the pay for the Patent Attorneys?

Experts state that the basic remuneration for a patent attorney in India would range from Rs 10,000 for a starter, which would increase with one’s performance, and experience. Depending on how good a patent lawyer you are, you can earn quite well within a few years of working. On an average, a professional patent attorney earns about Rs 40,000, which is certainly a great pay.

Qualifications 

Though one could specialize in patent law from several colleges and institutions across the country, studies indicate that you must always give preferences to leading law colleges like NALSAR, Hyderabad, and Indian institute of Patent and Trademark Attorney that render quality education.

To become a patent attorney, one should appear for an exam which qualifies you for the course. A degree in science or technology along with a proof of Indian citizenship, and age is essential in order to be eligible for the Patents Agents Examination.

Institutes

There are several universities and colleges, which provide courses in patent law. NALSAR- Hyderabad and Indian Institute of Patent and Trademark Attorney (IIPTA) in Delhi and Hyderabad are the leading colleges providing quality education in patent law. IIPTA provides distance learning as well as online cloud campus study option for Patent Agent examination (cloudcampus.iipta.com). NALSAR provides one-year PG diploma course in patent law for graduate students. Several attorney firms and institutions in India have started providing training in Patent law.

Often people in India confuse Patent Attorney as a Patent Agent. But they both are different. The main differences are given as under:

PATENT AGENT PATENT ATTORNEY
Qualification
1. Must possess a degree in science, technology or engineering 1. Degree in science, technology or engineering not necessary
2. Degree in law is not required 2. Must have a degree in law
3. Must pass the Patent Agent Examination 3. Must be enrolled in any State Bar Council
Role
1. Patent Prosecution 1. Patent litigation
2. Practice before the Controller 2. Practice before the court