In Science Careers this week, Washington, D.C.-based patent attorney William Simmons discusses careers in biotech patent law, saying he learned early in his career that "scientific standards for peer review (on the one hand) and patenting (on the other) were different, and that the two writing tasks — a scientific paper and a patent application — required different approaches." However, he says a background in science can help a career in IP. The "analytical skills I gained from my scientific training were directly applicable to assessing whether an invention was patentable," Simmons says. For science-oriented individuals interested in pursuing careers in biotech patent law, he adds that "blazing a new trail" is not a requirement, "since patent law is a well-established career path for scientists." Many patent examiners have PhDs, Simmons says, adding that "most attorneys working in biotechnology patent law have science PhDs, and many have impressive postdoctoral experience." Because a career in patent law often involves communicating complex ideas, Simmons says excellent writing and speaking skills are a must. He adds that it's also important for IP professionals to keep up on "developments in the law so that they may advise their clients appropriately." Overall, Simmons says those who have "the appropriate skills and enjoy analyzing and communicating about scientific innovations, patent law could [an] ideal career."
A Clear Path
Oct 14, 2011