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Research Assessment #1

Date: October 13, 2016


Subject: Patent Law
MLA Citation:
Quinn, Gene. "Becoming Patent Bar Eligible: What Courses Are Acceptable?" IPWatchdog.
Practising Law Institute, 27 Dec. 2013. Web. 13 Oct. 2016.
<http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2012/06/07/becoming-patent-bar-eligible-what-coursesare-acceptable/id=25286/>.
"Who Can Take the Patent Bar Exam?" IPWatchdog.com. Practising Law Institute, n.d. Web. 13
Oct. 2016. <http://www.ipwatchdog.com/patent-bar-exam/patent-bar-qualifications/>.
Analysis:
I recently began to consider changing my topic of study from cyber law to Patent Law. In
order to see if this career was a viable career choice, I needed to gain information on the
requirements to become a patent lawyer. I was aware of there being a completely separate Bar
Exam for patent lawyers which required very specific qualifications, but needed to do further
research on the topic to learn if this would affect my college choice or path.
To be applicable to take the Patent Bar Exam one must meet three criteria: possess good
moral character and reputation, possess the legal, scientific, and technical qualifications
necessary, and is competent to advise and assist patent applicants. There are three separate
categories that define what may be provided when applying to take the Patent Bar. The first is
simply possessing a Bachelors Degree in an approved technical or scientific field and the second
is a lengthier process of gaining specific amounts of credits. The third category is extremely rare
to be accepted by, making it a last resort. Additionally, I learned that online courses are not
considered or accepted for application to the Patent Bar.
The second requirement quickly presented an issue for me. Among the several approved
Bachelors Degrees for engineering, I did not see Software Engineering listed. This concerned
me immensely as I was unsure what path to now pursue. I saw that Computer Science was also
permitted, however, the program would need to be accredited by the Accreditation Board for
Engineering and Technology (ABET). By looking into the groups website I found that the
Computer Science program at the University of Texas in Austin, the college I plan to attend, was

not accredited. It is still possible for me to take the Patent Bar if I take a certain number of course
hours during my undergraduate years, however, it seems like too large and complicated of an
endeavor to pursue. Thus, it seems my only solution is to major in Computer Engineering instead
so I can qualify to take the exam.
After reading this article I feel that I have learned a lot. In the future I will have to look
into whether the second approved option is viable, so I can see if it is possible to take the Patent
Bar even with an unapproved course such as software engineering. My current worries lie in
possibly having to switch majors or take a large amount of extra science classes. The career is
still very interesting to me, and, despite these possible setbacks, I am sure that I will be able to
succeed in this career.

(Articles are below)

Becoming Patent Bar


Eligible: What Courses are
Acceptable?
By Gene Quinn
June 7, 2012
16
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For those who want to represent inventors or


companies in their pursuit to obtain a U.S. patent it is necessary to
take and pass the Patent Bar Examination and become either a
Patent Attorney or a Patent Agent. Not just anyone can take the
Patent Bar Exam. In order to qualify to even take the Exam it is
necessary for the individual seeking to take the test to demonstrate
to the USPTOs Office of Enrollment & Discipline (OED) that they: (1)
Possesses good moral character and reputation; (2) Possesses the
legal, scientific, and technical qualifications necessary for him or her

to render applicants valuable service; and (3) Is competent to advise


and assist patent applicants in the presentation and prosecution of
their applications before the Office. Generally speaking, the main
hurdle for most who are unable to sit for the Exam is the
scientific/technical qualification requirement.
Those applying to take the Patent Bar must demonstrate to OED
that he or she possesses the scientific and technical training
necessary to provide valuable service to patent applicants. The
General Requirements Bulletin sets forth the particulars for most
situations, and divides qualifications into three distinct categories
that define what the applicant must provide OED Category A,
Category B and Category C. With Category A having a Bachelors
Degree in a specified field is enough to qualify. Under Category B
you need a certain number of credit hours, but you must also have a
Bachelors Degree, which means that college students are not
eligible to sit for the Patent Bar Exam until they have graduated.
Category C allows other relevant technical background to suffice,
but those allowed to sit for the exam under Category C are few and
far between, and one would have to wonder how easy it would be to
obtain employment without at least some scientific coursework at a
college or University level.

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Showing Required Scientific and Technical Training


An applicant is considered to possess the necessary scientific and
technical training if he or she provides an official transcript showing

that a Bachelors degree was awarded in 1 of 31 different scientific


or engineering disciplines by an accredited United States college or
university, or that the equivalent to a Bachelors degree was
awarded by a foreign university. For a listing and discussion of these
Category A degrees see Who Can Take the Patent Bar?
Those who have a Bachelors degree in a subject not listed must
demonstrate possession of the necessary scientific and technical
training under either Category B or Category C. For more on this
see Patent Bar Qualifications: Category B.
It is not uncommon for individuals to have a Bachelors degree in a
field not listed on the Category A list, but does possess a Masters
degree or Ph.D. in a field that is listed on Category A. For those who
have a Masters or higher level degree in one of the Category A
fields, but does not have a Bachelors degree in such subject, will
need to establish to the satisfaction of the OED Director that he or
she possesses the necessary scientific and technical training. In
other words, the mere possession of an advanced degree in a
Category A discipline does not automatically qualify you to take the
Patent Bar Examination. Possession of the necessary scientific and
technical training is typically established in the manner set forth
under Category B.
This is sometimes surprising to those who hold advanced degrees,
who question why the USPTO would have such a silly requirement.
The unfortunate truth, however, is that this is not a silly
requirement. There are engineering or science sounding advanced
degrees that focus almost exclusively on business and/or
management topics, which is not the case for Bachelors degree
programs. Those with advanced degrees but no Category A
Bachelors degree should NOT panic. You should easily have enough
credits under one of the Category B options to qualify to sit for the
Exam.

Which Courses Qualify Under Category B?


It is not uncommon for those wishing to become a Patent Attorney or
Patent Agent to need to qualify under Category B by counting course
credits. There are 4 separate options. Option 1 requires 24 credit
hours of Physics with all classes qualifying for credit for Physics
majors. Similarly, Option 3 requires 30 credit hours of Chemistry
with all classes qualifying for credit for Chemistry majors. Whether
you are seeking to qualify under one of the 4 Category B options the
question becomes this: Which courses will the USPTO recognize as
counting toward fulfillment of the required number of credit hours?
The most specific and direct statement in the General Requirement
Bulletin about courses is the paragraph that deals with the types of
courses that are examples of courses that will not be deemed
sufficient to demonstrate the necessary scientific and technical
training, which says:
The following typify courses that are not accepted as demonstrating
the necessary scientific and technical training: anthropology;
astronomy; audited courses; behavioral science courses such as
psychology and sociology; continuing legal education courses;
courses in public health; courses relating technology to politics or
policy; courses offered by corporations to corporate employees;
courses in management, business administration and operations
research; courses on how to use computer software; courses
directed to data management and management information
systems; courses to develop manual, processing or fabrication skills
(e.g. machine operation, wiring, soldering, etc.); courses taken on a
pass/fail basis; correspondence courses; ecology; economics of
technology; courses in the history of science, engineering and
technology; field identification of plants and/or animals; home or

personal independent study courses; high school level courses;


mathematics courses; one day conferences; patent law courses;
paleontology; political science courses; repair and maintenance
courses; radio operator license courses; science courses for nonscience majors; vocational training courses; and work study
programs. Also not accepted are college research or seminar
courses where the course content and requirements are not set
forth in the course descriptions; and courses that do not provide
scientific and technical training. Further, not accepted are courses
that repeat, or which are substantially the same as, or are lesserincluded courses for which credit has already been given.
But what about online courses, which are growing ever more
popular? I couldnt find that answer specifically in the General
Requirements Bulletin so I asked OED if they could clarify the
Offices position on such courses. According to OED, online courses
appearing on an official transcript will be considered on a case-by
case basis. OED went on to tell me: Factors that come into play in
determining whether credit is acceptable toward the requisite
technical and scientific training include the schools accreditation
and how the school treats credit for the course. There is no per se
rule regarding on-line courses.
While this may seem like no help at all, this answer from OED is
particularly enlightening if you are familiar with the way the Patent
Office evaluates courses generally. Furthermore, if online courses
are evaluated on a case-by-case basis that must mean that there
are indeed some online courses that the Patent Office is willing to
accept.
When determining whether to accept a particular course one
particularly important consideration is whether the course has been
accepted for college-level credit for a Category A degree at an
accredited U.S. college or university. We know that the USPTO will

accept courses taken at Community Colleges if those courses would


count toward a degree listed on Category A. Indeed, some who are
short credits will take them at Community Colleges and then be
admitted to take the exam. The same rationale seems to apply
when OED is evaluating online courses. So before you take a class
at a Community College or online make sure that the credits for the
course could be used by someone pursuing a Category A degree. If
the answer is that the course would count toward the credit
requirements for a Category A degree you should be fine.

Transcript Requirements
A copy of a diploma, the actual diploma itself or an unofficial
transcript are not acceptable evidence of a degree in the eyes of
OED. Similarly, a letter from the registrar specifying a degree or
degrees is not sufficient. It is necessary for the applicant to provide
an official transcript from a college or university as evidence of the
degree received. An official transcript issued to an applicant will be
accepted provided the transcript includes a university or college
stamp or seal.
The one issue that sometimes arises is with respect to name
changes, as may be the case due to marriage or divorce.
Transcripts must show the same name as the application. If there is
a difference between the name on the transcript and the name of
the applicant sufficient legal documentation of the name change,
such as a marriage certificate or court order, must be provided.

When to Apply for the Patent Bar Exam

If you file a complete application and you qualify under Category A


or B you will likely receive an admission ticket to take the Patent Bar
Exam within two weeks. It is important to keep in mind that those
seeking to qualify under Category B will need to submit not only an
official transcript, but will also need to include course descriptions
for each course relied upon. This can take some time because the
course description must be the official course description for the
course in the year in which the course was taken. Colleges and
Universities do keep old course descriptions and they can be
obtained, but it can take at least several weeks (or longer) to get the
information you need, particularly for old courses where that
information may be stored in archives off-site. So if you are going to
attempt to qualify under Category B you should do the leg work
necessary in advance. Dont wait to the last minute before you
want to apply and think you will be able to apply quickly or easily.
When you obtain an admission ticket to the Exam you will have a 90
day window within which to schedule the Exam at a Prometric Test
Facility. Those who have taken the PLI Patent Bar Review
Course are told that they should spend another 100 hours studying
materials we provide for the post course. Typically students will
apply when they are about 50% to 60% through the 100 hours so
that by the time they get the admission ticket they will be able to
take advantage of the full 90 window. It doesnt make sense to
apply too early and just have your window closing day after day
when you are not yet ready for the Exam.

Who Can Take the


Patent Bar Exam?
In order to represent inventors in their quest to obtain US patents
you must be admitted to practice in front of the United States Patent
Office. In order to become a patent attorney or patent agent it is
necessary to take and pass the Patent Bar Examination. Only those
individuals with scientific education are allowed to sit for the
examination, and you do not need any legal training to take the
exam. The burden is placed on individuals applying for the
examination to demonstrate that they possess the scientific and
technical training necessary to provide valuable service to patent
Applicants. An Applicant will be considered to have the necessary
scientific and technical training if he or she provides an official
transcript showing that a Bachelors degree was awarded in one of
the following subjects by an accredited United States college or
university, or that the equivalent to a Bachelors degree was
awarded by a foreign university in one of the following subjects:
Science Degrees

Biology

Biochemistry

Botany

Computer Science*

Electronics
Technology

Engineering Degrees

Aeronautical
Engineering

Agricultural
Engineering

Biomedical
Engineering

Ceramic Engineering

Food Technology

General Chemistry

Marine Technology

Engineering

Microbiology

Computer Engineering

Chemical
EngineeringCivil

Molecular Biology

Organic Chemistry

Pharmacology

Physics

Textile Technology

Electrical Engineering
Electrochemical
Engineering

Engineering Physics

General Engineering

Geological
Engineering
Industrial Engineering

Mechanical
Engineering

Metallurgical
Engineering

Mining Engineering

Nuclear Engineering

Petroleum
Engineering

Please note that with Computer Science degrees the school the
degree is awarded by must be accredited by the Computer Science
Accreditation Commission (CSAC) of the Computing Sciences
Accreditation Board (CSAB), or by the Computing Accreditation
Commission (CAC) of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and
Technology (ABET), on or before the date the degree was awarded.
Computer science degrees that are accredited may be found on the
Internet (http://www.abet.org).

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An applicant with a Bachelors degree in one of the approved


subjects must submit an official original transcript from the college
or university. A diploma, copy of the diploma, or copy of the
transcript will not be accepted. The official original transcript will be
accepted from applicants. The college or university transcript must
be official/original and include the university stamp or seal.
An applicant with a Bachelors degree in a subject not listed, such as
Biological Sciences, Pharmacy, Mechanical Technology, or a
Computer Science degree from an institution that was not
accredited by the CSAC of the CSAB or by the CAC of ABET on or
before the date the degree was awarded must establish to the
satisfaction of the OED Director that he or she possesses the
necessary scientific and technical training under either Category B
or Category C.
Ironically, the Patent Office does not accept advanced degrees as
per se evidence that the applicant has sufficient scientific training to
presumptively qualify to sit for the Patent Bare Exam. Thus, an
applicant who has a Masters or higher level degree in one of the
subject areas listed above, but does not have a Bachelors degree in
such subject, must established to the satisfaction of the OED
Director that he or she possesses the necessary scientific and
technical training. Possession of the necessary scientific and
technical training may be satisfactorily established in the manner
set forth under either Category B or Category C.
For information on how to become patent bar eligible please
see Becoming Patent Bar Eligible: What Courses are
Accepted?