A career as a patent attorney is not what most chemistry students dream of whilst they are trawling through spectroscopic data to include in their dissertation. Like many patent attorneys, my first encounter with the patent profession was purely out of chance. I attended a careers talk at my university and in between the presentations given by teachers, accountants and post-doctoral researchers was a presentation by a patent attorney who spoke about the challenging and rigorous work that is involved in his job and this immediately appealed to me.
Wilson Gunn was the only patent law firm that I applied to. After researching several firms, Wilson Gunn stood out for me as one that not only values your intellectual ability to carry out a demanding role but also puts great emphasis on interpersonal skills and your ability to build relationships within the firm and with clients.
I joined the Manchester office of Wilson Gunn in 2014 as a trainee patent attorney in the Chemistry and Life Sciences Team working towards qualification as a UK and European Patent Attorney. This requires sitting several sets of exams, focusing predominantly on patents but including all aspects of intellectual property law. The exams are tough and should not be taken lightly as they require hours of study outside of your normal office hours.
Wilson Gunn help a lot in this respect, providing internal seminars and external training courses aimed at giving you the best possible chance of passing the exams. The attorneys at Wilson Gunn are approachable and always willing to answer any questions.
Many attorneys I work with, including the partners, started their patent law careers at Wilson Gunn. I believe this to be a great testament to the firm and the manner in which it treats its employees.
My role involves assisting clients in obtaining vital intellectual property rights for their inventions. This includes drafting and filing patent applications, prosecuting applications through to grant, defending patents owned by our clients and opposing third party patents. The role of a patent attorney is a unique interdisciplinary mixture of a scientist and lawyer, requiring the ability to understand complex technical features of inventions and applying these to legal principles.
Patent attorneys are constantly at the forefront of new technologies and innovation, helping inventors who are passionate about their work. The nature of the work involves a commercial angle and it is important to understand your client and the direction they wish to take their business so you can advise them on the best possible strategy. This is an aspect of the job I particularly enjoy.
I am constantly tested and pushed out of my comfort zone, whilst this may be daunting at first, it has become my favourite aspect of the job. I hope to progress my career with Wilson Gunn, initially by passing my UK and European patent exams and then by developing my expertise and experience.
Patent law is an ideal career for any scientist wanting to make use of their scientific background outside the laboratory environment. It is a very competitive profession and one I would always recommend.