Candidate patent attorney – articles, requirements and salary

Requirements:

Undergraduate science (preferably, engineering) degree only. For more information on the requirements to qualify as a patent attorney, click here.

Age:
Before 2019, most firms took on candidate patent attorneys who recently completed their undergraduate degree. However, with the new Legal Practice Act, most candidate patent attorneys will likely need to join patent firms and start articles after completing their LLB law degree (whether full-time or part-time). A post-grad LLB can be completed in 3 years, whereas UNISA typically takes at least 4 years.

Additional studies while articled:
You will need to complete the patent exams (at least 2 years) and the attorneys’ board exams (1 year). These exams may be taken in parallel. It sounds like a mouthful, but is actually very manageable.

Period of articles:
At least 2 years, but you can realistically expect to take at least 3 years to qualify.

Starting salary:
Approximately R15,000 per month – way less than your friends that join engineering firms, I know. But hopefully the medium to long term rewards are worth this sacrifice.

Work activities:
Initially, candidate patent attorneys assist in conducting patent searches and reviewing / amending patents. After a year or two, you will start preparing draft patents.

Prospects:
After completing your LLB, articles, board and patent exams, you will be a qualified patent attorney. After qualifying, most patent attorneys remain with patent firms. Some accept positions as in-house patent counsel at Universities / large corporates, and others join funding agencies (e.g. TIA).

2 thoughts on “Candidate patent attorney – articles, requirements and salary”

  1. Mwaka Penza says:

    I have a BPHARM degree do I qualify to be a patent lawyer if I obtain the above qualifications. I do not have an engineering degree

    1. admin says:

      Hi Mwaka

      to become a patent attorney, you will require:
      1. a technical or scientific diploma or degree from a university or technikon, involving at least a three-year course of study; or
      2. any technical or scientific qualification, which in the opinion of the Board, is sufficient to enable the candidate to meet the requirements of the patent examinations; or
      3. adequate practical experience in a technical or scientific field, which in the opinion of the Board, is sufficient to enable the candidate to meet the requirements of the patent examinations.

      If your BPharm degree is at least a three year degree, you should be entitled to write the patent exams.

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