As tech companies grew beyond leaps and bounds, the demand for filing patents followed suit, and the numbers have shot up since the 2000s. The pandemic has caused the curve to flatten, but we can expect a spike by next year.
The filing of so many patents requires patent agents or patent attorneys who are licensed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. While patent agents primarily work to help file patents, patent attorneys are usually tasked with going after legal cases related to patents such as filing a case for patent infringement.
In the US, over 48k people served as patent agents as of October 2021. These agents advise and assist researchers, engineers, and large companies to protect their work from getting stolen. Despite this, there is a wide demand and supply gap due to the scarcity of lawyers with technical knowledge or technical background.
Salary trends for Patent Agents
We mined data related to the average salary received by Patent Agents in the USA. Both the minimum and maximum figures reach their heights at around 6-15 years of experience. After this, a fall in salary figures is seen.
Patent agent salaries can start at a minimum of $50,000 and reach around $180,000 (approximate figures). The fall in maximum and minimum salary after considerable years of work experience can be due to multiple reasons.
One possibility can be that most Patent Agents move on to senior positions after some years in the field. And only lawyers who switch to a patent agent position after making a career change are ones with long work experience. However, further analysis of core factors and work profiles of individuals will be required to make a definitive inference on this subject.
Search results for Patent Agent Jobs
Search results showed more than 4k jobs in 2021 for the position of Patent Agent. These job positions were spread across 775 companies.
An average of 5jobs/company was seen for companies among the top 5k. Unique job titles were more than 1k and unique skills were seen to be around 700.
Top skills in demand for Patent Agents
Among the top skills in demand for Patent Agents, understanding of Intellectual Properties comes at the top. Since inventions form the basis of patents, this is an expected trend.
Understanding of patents, writing them, due diligence, and computer science follow up among the top 5. None of them have definitive ranks since their demands keep overtaking one another and all the skills can be taken to be equally important. Since all of these skills are required to file patents irrespective of the industry type and country, their high frequency is justified.
Job Types for Patent Agents
Entry-level jobs make up around 55% of the jobs, whereas mid-level jobs fill up most of the rest, leaving just 2-3% of the jobs for senior-level positions.
Since most Patent Agents move on to partner or associate positions after a certain number of years of work experience, the negligible senior positions are not unexpected.
Being a demanding job, where one needs to stay updated about both tech and legal issues, most of the advertised positions are full-time in nature. There are also some undefined positions which are job posts where the position-type is not defined. These could very well be full-time as well. Few part-time jobs can also be seen from March to May 2021. These can be job opportunities which are paid on an hourly basis.
The rest of the share is made up of contractual jobs, internships, and volunteering positions. These add up to a negligible fraction of the total patent agent jobs. Such positions also usually offer an hourly payment system.
The USA and Patent Agent Jobs
As tech converges into different sectors like finance (fintech companies), medical research (machine learning-based disease detection), transportation (self-driving cars) and entertainment (gaming consoles and VR-based systems), the demand for protecting intellectual rights are only going to grow.
In such a scenario, the demand for law-practitioners with technical know-how is going to skyrocket. At the moment, almost none of the law colleges have technical courses, but that could change one day. This is because an understanding of the invention or discovery is very important for a Patent Agent to be able to file the documentation properly. Incorrect understanding may have far-reaching effects like the patent getting rejected, or someone else stealing your actual work.
As new-age companies compete in fields like renewable energy and autonomous machines, patent agents are likely to find their hands full unless the world finds a more efficient way to protect the results of research.