For most lawyers passing the bar is the last major hurdle before practicing law, but patent attorneys have one more obstacle in their path. Lawyers that practice before the patent office will need to pass another major test, the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), commonly called the patent bar. If you intend to practice as a patent attorney you'll want to prepare for the patent bar with the same seriousness you brought to the bar exam. Fortunately, there are patent bar review courses to help you prepare the same way bar review courses help students prepare for the bar. The following article provides an overview of these programs.
The first part of identifying an appropriate bar review course is determining the content and structure of the exam itself. The patent bar is a 100-question, multiple-choice test administrated in two sections of three hours each over the course of one day. Ten of the questions are not graded because they are being field tested by the patent bar, but they aren't separately identified. In order to pass the bar you must answer 70 percent of the remaining questions correctly. The test is administered by computer at designated locations.
Applicants are permitted to use a digital copy of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP), but other materials are forbidden. The test covers USPTO ethics and procedures, as well as federal patent statutes and regulations. The test focuses on patent applications rather than litigation since the test relates to practice before the USPTO.
Patent Bar Review Options
Patent bar review courses come at a range of prices and offer a variety of different study experiences. The following companies are generally well-regarded:
- Patent Resources Group (PRG) -- PRG is one of the oldest patent bar review programs and offers a very wide range of study options including their review course, a seminar series, advanced courses, and more. If you fail to pass the patent bar PRG guarantees that they will continue to provide you with materials and access until you pass. PRG will also pay your $100 attorney registration fee upon admission. PRG courses range in price, ranging between $2,000 and $3,000.
- Practicing Law Institute (PLI) -- PLI hosts one of the largest and most-respected patent bar review courses. One significant benefit of PLI's course is the inclusion of "Patware," a practice test program that emulates the patent bar's exam. Live courses are offered in major cities (available in more cities than any competitor) and there is a home study option that replaces live lectures with video. PLI course pricing is comparable to PRG's pricing.
- OmniPrep Patent -- OmniPrep offers a patent bar review course that promises to refund their fees if you fail to pass the course. The course site indicates they update their practice exam questions monthly, ensuring that the materials are up-to-date. OmniPrep's course is reasonably priced at a bit over $500.
- PatBar -- PatBar provides materials to facilitate self-directed study, as well as an "Exam Simulation Suite." PatBar's services are offered as a 9 month subscription. You can get a refund for any reason within 30 days, or within 9 months if the Patent Office determines you don't qualify during that time. You'll get a free 9-month renewal if you take the exam and don't pass. PatBar's program costs close to $700.
There are many other courses available. You should consider which aspects of the bar give you the most concern and choose a company that provides materials and courses that focus on that part of the test.
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