The Top Ten Milestones of a Young Patent Attorney



Yesterday evening, a couple of associates and I sat around the office laughing and joking about the experiences we’ve had in this crazy field since graduation  (note that this happened after all of the partners had left and we had finished all important projects of course).  Although some experiences are universal to “first job” experiences, a young patent associate must also go through several unique “rites of passage” while walking up that hill to competency. 


As such, the combined experiences have made it onto today’s post for everyone who can relate because they have been through them, will relate because you one day will go through them, or just crazy enough to want to know a patent attorney’s life journey. 


Eat your heart out David Letterman because here are:



The Top Ten Milestones of a Young Patent Attorney


10.  Spending almost a year trying to convince anyone to give you your first patent job and even threatening to move all the way to D.C. just to get the experience that everyone is asking you to have….and then two months after you start your first patent job, getting recruiter calls from all over the country.  Where were the recruiters two months ago?


9.  Studying for the patent bar and emphasizing to anyone that will listen that the patent bar only has a 45% pass rate and that is why you are a genius.


8.  Taking more than 20 hours to draft your first claim set of three independent claims.  At this point, patent drafting seems like a cake walk…..too bad the partner only keeps the preamble, “An apparatus comprising…..”


7.  Realizing the entire past lunch hour was spent discussing the correct pronunciation of ascorbic acid, and that doesn’t seem weird to you at all.


6.   Getting your first allowance.  Sure you didn’t really participate in any of the “actual” patent drafting, but you did spend hours and hours analyzing that office action.  


5.  Seeing the first press release on a patent you worked on.  Shameless self-promotion: Swept volume 3D display system.  Related shameless firm promotion:  DCR, while setting up OU’s patenting program more than 25 years ago, has also donated more than 1.5 million in legal services and costs. 


4.  Answering your first cold call and walking down the hall to the nearest partner so excited that you’ve just landed the Nutty Professor as a client. 


<p class="MsoNormal" style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt; mso-spacerun: yes" 3.3.  Hearing your client blunder through the whole, “You can’t be older than my grandchild and you charge how much per hour?  I didn’t realize that I’d be working with Doogie Howser.  Can I see some I.D.?”


2.  Thinking that you are cool being your own lexicographer.


1.  Coming to terms with the fact that you really are a geek, no matter how hard you try to conceal it.




Other milestones you will encounter one day, as you age, if you stay a patent prosecutor:

11. Getting the first allowance on an application you drafted from scratch.

12. Having your first case litigated.

13. Getting deposed for the first time, and being asked the question "So, 8 years ago, when you drafted this claim exactly what were you thinking when you selected the word 'network'?"

14. Experiencing your first downturn in the economy, and realizing that you would've made more money as an associate. Oops.

15. Training a young associate, and realizing that you were probably just as ignorant when you started out.

16. Re-reading an issued claim that you wrote as a young associate, and being horribly embarrassed by it.

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