I'm a engineer with a diploma from another country, How would i proceed to become a patent lawyer in the USA?

Will I have to make a full undergrad course or there is a shorter way?

  • 2
    The rules for admission to the Patent Bar of the US Patent and Trademark Office may be found on its website, under "Office of Enrollment and Discipline". The qualifications for sitting for the examination include specific scientific or engineering background.
    – Upnorth
    Sep 13, 2017 at 16:29

2 Answers 2


There are two possible career paths in patent law.

One is to be a patent agent who is authorized to help people obtain patents through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office administrative proceedings, but is not a lawyer and cannot litigate patent infringement in court or negotiate and draft licensing agreements. This requires some study to pass an exam offered by the PTO, but not a law degree. Usually, if you are an engineer, you also don't need a new scientific or technical degree either, although you might need a remedial course or two if your degree did not cover every subject that the PTO requires. I believe that there are PTO exam prep courses, although I've never really investigated it. A patent agent can also work for the PTO as a patent examiner.

A second is to become a patent attorney. This requires you to earn a U.S. law degree (three years of study to obtain a J.D., normally following an undergraduate degree in the U.S. (with no prerequisites), as the U.S. does not have an undergraduate law degree), then pass the bar exam in some U.S. state, and then to pass the PTO exam as well. You must also have the appropriate science/engineering background educationally or prove equivalent ability by exam. This gives you full authority to practice law in all areas including all aspects of patent law.

Unsurprisingly, patent lawyers are paid more than patent agents, but patent agents can still make a very decent living (in excess of $100,000 a year on average), and do much of the same work, without having to earn a credential that involves a lot of material that is extraneous to your goal.

  • Applying for a job as an examiner does not require previously passing the patent bar or even any specific patent knowledge. Examiners are taught patent law on the job and normally have no previous patent education. On the other hand, after four years in the examining corp., examiners who leave the USPTO can become registered practitioners without taking the bar exam. Apr 17, 2019 at 23:10

If you have a bachelor's degree in engineering (of almost any kind), you should qualify to take the Patent Office's Registration Exam. Trust me, they are accustomed to seeing LOTS of degrees from outside the US. Mark Dighton, Admin. Director, PLI's Patent Office Exam Course

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