Why did you choose to become a Patent Attorney?
I completed my degree in Mechanical Engineering with the aim of becoming a design engineer to design innovative products. After graduation, I spent almost four years as a design engineer at two different companies, but I realised that it was not for me. The first company I worked for had a strong focus on innovation and protecting intellectual property – it was there that I learnt about patents and what a Patent Attorney does.
The role of a Patent Attorney requires a combination of technical, legal, and commercial knowledge, which I thought sounded really interesting. Furthermore, the opportunity to work on technologies in multiple fields (rather than being focused on just one industry) really appealed to me, as well as working directly with companies and inventors at the cutting edge of technology.
What are your main duties/roles?
My duties vary from day to day, but normally include some of the following:
- Reviewing search and exam reports from the UK and European Patent Offices
- Preparing responses to the exam reports
- Conducting patentability searches
- Meeting with clients to discuss the progress of their patent applications or any new inventions
- Assessing infringement risks
A large part of the first few years as a Patent Attorney is preparing for the exams. Forresters have been very supportive with this – running training sessions once a week to go through various topics ahead of the exams in October, and sending us on a residential training course (JDD) to help prepare for the exams.
I also recently completed a mental health first aid course which was organised and supported by Forresters. As part of my role, I am now a mental health first aider. This means that I can help anyone who is struggling at work by guiding them to the right support, as well as trying to encourage positive wellbeing. Being a patent attorney involves a lot of deadlines and there can be a lot of pressure at times, especially in the lead up to exams, so it’s great that Forresters is taking a proactive approach to mental health support.
What skills are useful in this sector/profession?
Being a Patent Attorney requires a unique combination of skills. One of the most important skills is to be able to communicate effectively, both when speaking and in writing. An ability to understand technical problems quickly is also an advantage. A large part of the job is learning the law, and although you are not expected to know much about it when you first start, it is important to have an interest in it.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to enter the profession?
My advice would be to do plenty of research into the profession to find out exactly what type of work you will be doing, so that you can decide if it is the right job for you. If possible, I would recommend doing work experience for a couple of weeks to see what the day-to-day role of Patent Attorney is like, as it can be difficult to understand this from just reading about the job.