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Patent Attorney Career Description

Patent attorneys work in the field of law internationally known as intellectual property law or industrial property law. The work of patent attorneys extend over four major areas, namely patents, trade marks, registered designs and copyright, and may also include aspects of trade secrets, unlawful competition, contracts and litigation. However, they specialise in the area of patents.

What am I going to do in this occupation?

Patents A patent is a limited monopoly granted by the state to the inventor of a new invention with inventive merit. Patents are therefore synonymous with new and advanced technology. Because of the diversified nature of technology, patent attorneys tend to specialize in a specific technology field. Patent attorneys will be required to advise their clients in regard to the protection and exploitation of inventions.

This entails the evaluation of the technological aspects of inventions, the preparation of legal documents (including patent specifications), the filing and prosecution of patent applications, and the handling of court proceedings regarding patents. For this reason patent attorneys are required to have both a technical qualification and a law degree.

Trade Marks
A trade mark is a distinctive mark or sign used in relation to goods to signify their origin. Trade marks (or brand names) constitute a valuable asset in the context of the trading or service activities of a business. Since trade mark work does not entail a significant technological aspect, trade mark practitioners do not require a technical function.

Registered Designs
A design registration affords protection for the features of shape and appearance of an article, and thus protects the creative and visible features of the design of the article. An application including drawings has to be filed to achieve a design registration.

Copyright protection extends to copyright works such as literary or artistic or musical works, sound recordings, cinematography films, computer programs, etc. It gives the copyright owners the right to prevent others from copying their work without their authority.


What kind of personality do I need? To succeed as a patent attorney, a person should have an analytical mind, be capable of logical and precise thinking and have a good command of language.

Where can I work?

Patent attorneys are generally in private practices in firms ranging in size from large law firms to small firms with two or three partners. Large industrial or business corporations can also employ patent attorneys as in-house legal advisers.

Can I work for myself in this occupation?

Patent attorneys with the necessary experience can start their own private practices or work on consultation basis for various organisations.

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