The biggest risk that faces someone who invents something new, today, is the danger of someone shamelessly copying the invention and selling it as their own. With the rise of intellectual property, the abuse of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) has become even more profound and it is imperative for the owner of such property to protect their property through any means possible. This is where various Patent and Copyright laws come into the picture, and this is what makes the job of a patent attorney a highly sought after one.
The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) is the official body that provides patents and other trademarks to people who apply for them, and the legalized paperwork that is required to be completed is almost always carried out by a patent attorney. A patent is nothing but a license for an individual, or a company, to sell a certain invention solely for a fixed amount of time. If any other party blatantly copies this product they will be subject to scrutiny from the law and could get punished or fined for doing so.
Hence every major company regularly files for patents for all their products so that their rivals do not steal their ideas. Individuals file for patents so that no one else steals their idea and reaps monetary benefits from it. So a patent attorney is someone who comes in handy for all such parties, and the work that he does is absolutely essential and vital.
A Patent Attorney's Job Description
A patent attorney is not exactly the same as a regular lawyer so his qualifications can be pretty different, even though the requirements to become a lawyer are similar in nature. Simply put, his job is to file for a patent on behalf of his client and ensure that his product is patented, and if there is someone violating the patent, it is his job to file a complaint and ensure that the proper authorities take the necessary action. Here is a description of the duties a patent attorney fulfills, and this will be useful for someone who wants to know more about how to become one.
1. Attorneys who work in patent prosecution regularly check if patents meet all the necessary conditions and if they do not clash with other patents from around the world. Attorneys working in patent litigation file complaints against parties who they feel are violating patent laws, and then fight cases against them.
2. The very first thing that a patent attorney does is understand a specific invention and get a good idea about its strengths and weaknesses. There are certain gray areas under patent laws and the attorney will tell you if it is possible to get a patent or not. If not, he will suggest suitable changes that could make the invention eligible for a patent.
3. The next thing he or she will do is help you create a 'claim'. This is a short yet detailed description of the invention which states how the invention is a novel idea and it is something that has never been done before. The attorney will also word the claim in such a manner that it does not clash with any products in existence at the moment. This is usually a long and drawn out affair and may require many different versions of the claim.
4. The next step is the creation of the 'patent specification'. This is a detailed description of the functionality of the product. It needs to be worded in such a way that the patent will be eligible even if patent laws change in the near future. This is a skill that only an experienced patent attorney will possess, and this is one of the primary prerequisites for the job. The specification needs to be flexible, accurate and detailed to be accepted successfully.
5. Getting a patent for a new product takes anything between 2-3 years. It is their job to negotiate the terms of the patent with the USPTO and to maintain the best interests of the client at the same time. There is a lot of legal paperwork that needs to be completed and there are several negotiating meetings that need to be attended, and ultimately it is the attorney who does all this on behalf of the client.
A patent attorney should not be confused with a patent agent. The answer may not be the same as that received for a patent agent, so it is important to understand the difference. A patent agent can only negotiate patents for a client, but an attorney can file complaints, fight cases and study conflicting patents as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes them as 'A178 Lawyers', placing them in the same category as regular lawyers. But a patent agent is placed in the 'B034 Business and Promotion Agents' category.
If a client requires any other legal assistance with regard to patent laws and new inventions, it is the patent attorney who will help him out. This is the most essential part of the job description and this is what makes this a highly coveted profession amongst business organizations, independent inventors and other groups of business-oriented individuals.