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A patent paralegal handles the administrative tasks associated with the patent application process. It can take several years for a patent application to be completed and a patent paralegal is there every step of the way. When people secure the services of a patent and trademark attorney to assist with a patent application, it is actually the patent paralegal who does much of the work. These legal specialists tend to make more money than other paralegals because they receive unique training.
One aspect of a patent paralegal's job involves organizing all of the paperwork associated with the patent application in a meaningful way. It is necessary to keep meticulous documentation and records and the paperwork can start to pile up quickly. Patent paralegals establish a filing system to keep all of the materials organized so that they can be easily referenced and accessed. They also maintain an index of all the materials associated with the patent application to keep track of where things are, when they were first collected, and how they are being used.
Research is a critical part of this work. Research can be performed to support either a patent application or patent litigation. It can involve finding documentation, conducting interviews, traveling to physical locations to inspect things, and organizing all of the data collected into reports. Patent paralegals are involved in drafting of patent application paperwork, under the supervision of an attorney, and they also file that paperwork.
Patent paralegals act as a point of contact between client, attorney, and patent office. The patent paralegal follows up on materials sent to the patent office, keeps track of deadlines, and answers questions for all parties involved. This requires a high level of organizational skill as well as the ability to work with very diverse people. Getting along with the patent examiner and client is an important part of making the job run smoothly.
Usually a patent paralegal qualifies as a paralegal and then takes additional training in patent law because it is necessary to be intimately familiar with patent law to serve in this type of position. Some paralegal training programs offer elective classes that provide paralegals with additional education and it's also possible to learn on the job in an office of a patent attorney. A fully qualified patent paralegal with several years of experience can usually find work in a variety of settings and may be very well compensated for his or her professional services.
The patent paralegal profession is one that is, as the Transformers say, more than meets the eye. The role is critical as a liaison between the working cogs in the machine of a patent law office, as is pointed out in this article.
As in any important role, training should be highly valued in order to increase efficiency. Readers may want to check out training courses such as Patent Resources Groups Institute courses.
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