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informational interview-patent examiner/agent

PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:06 pm
by Nikos
Hello one and all,

I am scheduled to meet with a couple of intellectual property attorneys later this week at a prominent law firm in the Chicagoland area. I emailed one of the health law attorenys recently and briefly touched upon some of my experience volunteering in the tech transfer department at my university which has included the evaluation of life and medical technologies for potential commercialization into the industrial sector. Moreoever, I touched upon how I had learned a little about licensing as well as patent protection, and closed out the letter by asking the attorney(s) if they could tell me about their career path and suggestions they had about the necessary steps I could take to aid in the transition into a career as a patent agent or patent examiner, and potentially an IP attorney if i were go to law school.

I was happy(and surprised) to see that they proceeded to invite me to their law firm for what I think is going to be an informational interview with a couple of their attorenys or perhaps scientists who are now patent agents. Thus, I was wondering what I could do to better prepare for this upcoming meeting. Are there any questions that I should anticipate? Should I have questions ready to ask them? Perhaps some of the IP professionals who contribute to this website, i.e Chris Buntel, could be of assistance. Any advice is greatly appreciated.


informational interview-patent examiner/agent

PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:53 pm
by Harris
Hi Nick,
while I'm sure you'll get helpful advice from this forum, I also suggest you read the discussions on this link which is devoted mainly to IP related matters.You could learn a lot about patent agent/examiner careers.
best wishes...keep us updated.

informational interview-patent examiner/agent

PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 12:07 am
by Val

Following graduation with a PhD, I worked as a patent searcher for a patent attorney for several months. I was good at the job, I enjoyed doing it, and I decided to became a patent attorney. To do this, an IP law firm had to hire me as a Patent Attorney Trainee. Little I know that patent lawyer was an extremely closed-shop occupation in Australia. Following that work, I had been in postdoctoral employment (and unemployment) for several years.

Then the IT boom occured. The patent attorney firms were expanding and required qualified people conversant in IT and photonics to join the occupation. I applied for an advertised position and was invited for an interview with two patent attorneys. This was the first time in my entire life when I enjoyed talking with the interviewers. They clearly were intellectuals raising over the gray sea of uncultured masses, and understood untrivial issues from half a sentence. They treated me as a competent specialist of an equal level. I felt like a bonding formed between me and the two patent attorney interviewers. When I was leaving I thought that I had a good stub at getting the job. A week later the patent attorney sent me email saying that they hired someone else. I phoned him up for a feedback, and he told me that they preferred the other guy because he already worked with patents at a high-tech company, a client of them. This was it. I realised that this was the last time I applied for a patent attorney trainee job, as I was getting too old to be a junior staff, and I'd better concentrate on mastering other career.


informational interview-patent examiner/agent

PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 12:33 am
by Dave Jensen

I just want to congratulate you on a picture-perfect strategy. Your approach to the law firm was absolutely perfect. Now, I wish you all the best of success in the interview.

My only comment is that it is best to treat ALL interviews, informational or otherwise, as the "real deal." I recall an interview that I had with a major chemical company. It was supposed to be "Come on by and meet our VP, and talk a little bit in general terms about what your search firm can do for us. Nothing formal." So, I was surprised when I had not just the one VP, but about four or five of them, and a meeting with the luminary CEO and founder of the firm, the son of a Nobel Laureate. All of this came on a day when I was prepared only for the informal meeting. While I did OK on the spur of the moment, I kicked myself for years because I didn't do an OUTSTANDING job in that interview. I could have bowled them over, and instead I only did "OK."

Nick, just remember that could happen to you as well. Best of luck to you and prepare as much as you can,

Dave Jensen, Moderator
CareerTrax Inc.

informational interview-patent examiner/agent

PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 10:52 am
by J.J.
Nick-congrats on getting that face-to-face metting. It's how I got my job-so it's definitely a great first step.
The one thing that stood out is that you are meeting with a health law attorney as well as some people in the patent group. I would do some research about who is the partner in charge of the scientists. It would be pretty unusual to have a patent group under a health law attorney. Now, that doesn't mean that meeting with him isn't a good idea. In fact, he could personally be interested in having someone like you work on litigation or regulation work. You might want to cover your bases and say you are interested in patent prosecution and litigation support. Also, try and get a feel for the role of the patent agents. Are they in law school? At some firms, going to law school is expected/encouraged. However, at other firms, I've heard that some candidates are rejected because they want to go to law school. It's pretty expensive to train a patent agent, so some firms don't want you to leave after two years. I would just hold off on asking questions like "Do you pay for law school" until you are pretty sure what type of situation you are dealing with. You will be safe with questions about the kind of support you can expect while training/studying for the patent bar.
Oh, and you might want to search the USPTO database for people at the firm with registration numbers to get an idea of how big the patent group is. And, you can do a patent search to see what types of patents that firm has prosecuted. Then, you will have an idea of who their clients are. Another warning-if you mention this, pick more recent patents, because you don't want to say "I see you've done work for Microsoft" when in fact, Microsoft dropped the firm 5 years ago, and, well, you can see how that would be awkward.

Good luck!

informational interview-patent examiner/agent

PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2004 5:00 pm
by Chris Buntel

Building off of Jill's points, try to learn as much about the firm as possible. The firm's website is a start. The Martindale web site is a good source too. Jill's suggestion of searching for issued patents prosecuted by the firm is good too. You might even drop some numbers -- "I noticed that you had 200 US patents issued for your clients last year".

Definitely be prepared for the "Do you want to go to law school?" question. A safe answer would be something like "I don't know, and would like to try the work for a few years before thinking about it" (this is also good advice for you).

Chris Buntel.

informational interview-patent examiner/agent

PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2004 7:11 pm
by Nikos
Well Id like to thank all of you for taking the time to help me out and of course all of the meaningful advice you provided. I ended meeting up with a couple of corporate securities attorneys who provide counsel for both small and large healtcare enterprises, and have handled litigation matters surrounding licensing, M + A, as well as joint ventures. It was pretty informal and I felt that things went very well. They were impressed with the knowledge that I had on the law firm and on a couple of specific attorneys(namely both of them) before coming into the meeting, but more profoundly, the extracurricular activities that I have conducted throughout graduate school to enable my transitioning into a career as a patent agent. To make a long story short, they both stated that theyd be happy to serve as contacts in the future, would serve as liasons to the firm's patent agents/attorneys for me if need be, and finished things off by giving me thier business cards. Once again, thanks to all of for your advice and I encourage all of you out there to perform your due diligence and take the necessary care for your career as well as pursuing your academic goals in the research environment.