1. I’ve seen cheap ($20-$50) courses and books on eBay, what about those?
These contain materials which you can already get for free, including the MPEP, and old and out-of-date exam questions and notices from the Patent Office.
They don’t contain any original material, and they aren’t optimized to help you pass the exam. While it is possible to study and pass with this material, we estimate that it takes about 400 hours of study, vs. 150-200 using our course.
2. Are you sure that none of the other courses has new questions from the actual exam?
A number of years ago, some of the big companies that do bar prep (that is, the regular state bars to become an attorney, not the Patent Bar) were caught sneaking questions out of the exam. They were sued and ended up having to pay millions of dollars to settle.
In addition, we have seen all of our competitors’ courses over the years (we’ve bought used copies on eBay, etc.). In all that time, our director has yet to see a legitimate question that would be included on the exam, since the last batch publicly offered in October 2003.
3. Who should take the exam?
Persons who should take the registration examination fall into a number of categories.
As indicated on our Do I Qualify page, science and engineering graduates who have an interest in handling patent matters before the USPTO (i.e., mainly filing and prosecuting patent applications) must take the examination. By passing the examination (plus a few other formalities), the person becomes registered as a patent agent. Many patent agents are employed by law firms as technical specialists in their area of expertise.
Others may desire to do the same kind of work, and usually other legal work such as patent litigation, by attending law school and becoming a patent attorney.
Many scientists and engineers become involved in patents in their employment and have an interest in registering as a patent agent. Sometimes this allows them to become even more involved in this area, and they are sometimes called Patent Liaison or Patent Coordinator as part of their job description.
4. Why should I take the exam?
Practice as a patent agent or attorney can be a very interesting and lucrative career. It is a daily challenge with many rewards.
5. What types of people take the Patent Bar?
Patent prosecutors and litigators
If you plan to become a patent prosecution attorney or patent litigator, passing the patent bar is the threshold requirement for practicing in this field. You will be required to take the exam after you are hired. It is in your best interest to get this exam out of the way as soon as possible. Why wait until you are inundated with your job responsibilities, which will force you to juggle time and energy?
Scientists and engineers
For non-attorneys with a technical background in science or engineering, being a registered patent agent is an invaluable credential. Patents are the lifeblood of technology companies and the most efficient way to protect important technical developments spawned by research and development centers, corporations, and individuals.
Regardless of your job role, in many companies being a registered patent agent can only boost your economic value and hence your bargaining power when negotiating compensation.
Many people have an inventor lurking inside them. Becoming a patent agent or attorney will allow you to expeditiously protect your own ideas.
Anyone with a science or engineering background
Developing your skills as a patent practitioner will inevitably boost your value and earning potential regardless of your chosen profession.
6. What is tested on the exam?The examination is designed to test an applicant’s knowledge of patent laws, rules and procedures as related in the MPEP, and the ability to properly analyze factual situations and properly apply the patent laws, rules and procedures to render valuable service, advice and assistance to patent applicants in the preparation and prosecution of their patent applications. Before taking this examination, an applicant must be familiar with the patent laws, rules, USPTO rules of practice, and procedure as related in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) and any other notices which will be provided and tested on the exam.
7. What types of questions are used?
The examination is 100 linear multiple-choice questions, each with five choices. It is given in two sessions: fifty (50) questions will be asked in a three-hour morning session, and fifty (50) questions will be asked in a three-hour afternoon session, for a total of six hours permitted for completion of the examination.
8. What can I bring into the examination room?
Applicants may NOT bring any documents, materials, machines, or electronic devices (including computers, telephones, recording devices, cameras, and typewriters) into the examination.
9. How is the exam administered?
An applicant granted admission to commercial administration of the examination will receive an admission letter with instructions to contact Thomson Prometric and coordinate a date and location for administration of the examination. It is critical that applicants who receive an admission letter carefully review the personal information on the admission letter.
The name on the admission letter should be the name given on line 1b of the application form, and will be the name provided to Thomson Prometric for allowing entrance to the examination site.
The Internet web site and telephone number for Thomson Prometric will be shown in the admission letter. The admission letter specifies a 90-day time period during which the applicant should coordinate an exam date with Thomson Prometric and take the examination. After this 90-day time period expires, the applicant will no longer be able to schedule to take the examination and must file a new application and all fees.
10. How is the exam scheduled?
Option 1 – scheduling with Thomson Prometric over the Internet: applicants may arrange the test date and testing center, and make payment arrangements, by visiting the Thomson Prometric Internet web site at http://www.prometric.com and following instructions there.
Option 2 – scheduling with Thomson Prometric by telephone: applicants may arrange the test date and testing center, and make payment arrangements, by calling the Thomson Prometric Candidate Services Contact Center using the toll-free phone number reserved only for USPTO exam takers at: 800-479-6369. Appointments made by telephone must be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance of the appointment. Applicants calling the Candidate Services Contact Center to make an appointment within the 48-hour window will be referred to the local Thomson Prometric Test Center for scheduling. The applicants can then verify with the center if an exception (an appointment) can be made.
Option 3 – walk-in scheduling: applicants who walk into a Thomson Prometric testing center may be given an appointment if the OED has submitted an eligibility file for the candidate in advance of the walk-in, and if there is a seat available at the testing center.