Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What to do with your Ph.D. -> Patent Attorney / Examiner

In a comment WAY back... I was asked about being a patent attorney. The commenter noticed that there are some firms that pay for you to go to law school etc... and wondered what was up with that.

I think you make a lot of money.

I know I value GOOD patent attorneys a lot.

We pay them a lot.

I don't want to be one.

That was the short version. A little more description on what they do (from my point of view not being one). These people listen to the inventors, the business people, and assorted by standers and then write up the invention as a patent. They translate the hard core technical in to the hard core legal, which are completely seperate languages. In addition, the good ones write the patent in such a way as to be maximally useful for the business. Translated loosly that means that people like me can take it and enforce it against other people and either exclude them from the market or derived some license revenue.

I think almost anyone could write claims that cover ONLY the invention. The good attorneys have enough of a technical background that they understand enough, poke enough, and write well enough in order to make sure that you get coverage on what was really invented.

Really good attorneys are also able to read the patent landscape and see options about where things can be invented, or where coverage of your competitors are weak. This requires both the deep legal understanding and the deep technical understanding to see the holes in coverage. These people are worth their weight in gold.

Legal, at most places, works closely with the business really as a support function. For those attorneys that I don't think are that good, they are treated really as support people. For those that are good, they are brought fully in to the strategic teams and are part of setting direction. They are incredibly rare and highly compensated.

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