| Although we are often mistaken for lawyers, in Australia the
patent attorney and legal professions are separate (the word
"attorney" means a representative - its original meaning
before television convinced most people otherwise).
A patent attorney provides representation and advice regarding
patenting and related intellectual property matters, such
as preparing and filing patent applications for inventions,
representation in matters before the Patent Office, patent
oppositions and advising in relation to infringement.
A patent attorney has a background in technology, overlaid
with further qualifications in the law and practice of intellectual
property. A patent attorney has a degree or other qualification
in a field of patentable technology - traditionally in science
or engineering, though this has broadened over recent years
- to give the skills to understand and assimilate the technology
of our client's inventions.
The qualifications in intellectual property law and practice
consist of a series of courses accredited by the Professional
Standards Board. These courses were run by the Board itself
but these are now outsourced to universities and academies,
such as the Master
of Intellectual Property course at University of Technology,
Sydney, or the other accredited courses listed at the Professional
Standards Board site.
The courses for becoming a patent attorney include all of
the courses necessary to become a trade
mark attorney, and it is usual that a patent attorney
will also be registered as a trade mark attorney.
A common career path for an aspiring patent attorney will
include several years, at least, working as a trainee patent
attorney (also called a technical assistant) under supervision
of a registered patent attorney while studying for registration.
The Professional Standards Board maintains the Registers of
Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys, publishes a Code
Of Conduct (PDF file) and administers the disciplinary
regime for the profession.
Significant changes to the qualification and regulation of
patent and trade mark attorneys came into force on 1 July
2008, including additional pre-registration experience requirements
and mandatory continuing professional education. A summary
of the new requirements has been published in a brochure (by the Professional Standards Board.