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In the patent profession, you could earn up to £55,000 before you’ve even finished your exams. Qualification increases your worth further, and can be used as a passport to international opportunities. Read on to find out what you could earn with a career in patents, and where it could take you.

There has been a gradual improvement in the economy which has led to an increase in activity in the recruitment of IP professionals. Companies that had postponed recruitment as a consequence of the economic crisis are now seeking to steadily expand. The demand for newly-qualified professionals remains high due to their well-developed skills, which can be of immediate value to employers without compromising on remuneration.

The number of candidates passing the European Qualifying Examinations (EQEs) to become European patent attorneys has recently increased, especially in Germany, the UK, France and the Netherlands. Firms have opened their doors to attorneys from different jurisdictions – Europe and the Commonwealth principally – to try and keep up with the demand. This trend has seen some cutbacks, as home-grown talent is slightly more plentiful than it has been for some years.

In the UK, some private practices are offering packages once reserved for multinationals, with attorneys being paid a salary along with bonuses, health scheme, life assurance, pension and gym membership. At partner level, attorneys can expect a share in the firm’s profits.

Attorneys in Germany, UK, Switzerland and now France, remain substantially better remunerated than their counterparts in other parts of Europe. The differences are even higher when compared to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. There are of course exceptions, such as heads of departments in multinational companies. At this level, factors such as experience in different countries, particularly in Europe and the US, will boost the value of the package they can command, with signing-on bonuses and share-option packages available. This has certainly been the case recently, due to an increasingly litigious IP environment.

In the Far East, there has been a rise in research and development (R&D) activities which has spurred interest in IP specialists, thus offering further opportunities for UK/European attorneys. Remuneration packages in the Asia-Pacific region are substantially lower in some countries, in line with lower cost of living conditions, but for candidates with exceptional linguistic skills and knowledge – such as proven US/Chinese experience – packages can be substantial. Companies have started to base their support staff, such as patent searchers, in India. Considerable expertise in this area can be found there and costs are significantly lower.

For those seeking a training contract, a salary in the £27,000 to £30,000 range can be considered the norm. However, due to intense competition to enter the profession, some well-qualified graduates have had to accept a figure below £23,000. However, by the time of qualification, one can expect upwards of £55,000, with a £5,000 increase generally offered after exam success in both the CIPA Finals and the EQEs. At partner levels the rewards will be well worth the effort, as six figure packages and above are common.

It is commonplace to make a start in one’s career in London, which offers a premium on salaries and is where the majority of opportunities are available. However, those seeking to develop a career outside of the London area may have to accept a lower package in exchange for the location of choice. In-house opportunities are, to a large extent, obtainable only outside of London, as most patent departments are located close to companies’ R&D facilities.

For job opportunities for qualified or part-qualified attorneys across Europe and a taste of what to expect in the future go to

Responsibility level Earnings per year
Recent graduates £27,000-30,000
Technical Assistant (QMW/Foundation level) £32,000-38,000
Finals standard £40,000-55,000
Newly-qualified Patent Attorney £60,000+
Post qualification experience (3 years) £75,000+
Post qualification experience (5 years) £85,000+
Head of IP Department (industry) £100,000-250,000 (incl. benefits)
Partner in private practice £100,000-400,000 (incl. profit share)

For a regularly updated overview of patent attorney salaries take a look at Payscale.

About the Author

  • Name: Adamson & Partners

Adamson & Partners are an executive search and selection firm with 30 years of experience specialising in the IP sector. They specialise in European search assignments and have experience in recruiting on an international basis for clients in the US and Asia.

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