A patent lawyer can expect to make around $130,000 a year on average, according to PayScale. The law specialty involves helping inventors navigate the complicated process of filing for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
To become a patent lawyer, an individual must have a degree in fields including chemistry, biology, physics or civil, mechanical, electrical or biomedical engineering before obtaining a law degree. When the required education is completed, individuals need to pass the USPTO's licensing exam in order to represent inventors.
Duties of a patent lawyers span the entire patent process, beginning with researching an invention to make sure it hasn't been previously patented by examining technical and scientific documents and comparing them to inventions already holding a patent. After the invention is deemed original, a lawyer writes a detailed, specifically worded patent application according to the patent agencies guidelines and works with the USPTO office to amend the application as requested. After a patent is granted, a patent lawyer is also charged with litigating any infringements on the invention in court as needed.
Attorneys can be either patent prosecutors or patent litigators. Patent litigators pursue a patent owner's rights if someone infringes on his or her patent, according to the National Institutes of Health.