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How do I become a patent attorney?

The title of patent attorney is protected by law. You can only become a patent attorney by passing the exams and being trained under the supervision of an experienced patent attorney.

First of all you will need to have followed a technical or science education at Master’s degree level such as:

  • mechanical engineering, aviation and aerospace technology or electrical engineering
  • industrial design, civil engineering or architecture
  • chemistry, chemical engineering or biochemistry
  • biotechnology, molecular biology or microbiology
  • medicine or veterinary science
  • information technology, materials science or physics

If you meet this requirement, you can apply for a (paid) trainee post at a patent agency or patent department. Most patent attorneys have a few years of experience in their discipline or have obtained a doctorate.

The trainee post

If you are accepted you will work as a trainee patent attorney under the supervision of a qualified patent attorney for three years. You will begin by taking over small tasks that your mentor will check. Gradually, you will be given larger assignments and more independence. In that way, you will gain more and more experience in the legal way of thinking and you gain practice in drafting advice and applications.

The theory

At the same time you will receive part-time theoretical education at the organisation where you are a trainee or at the Stichting Beroepsopleiding Octrooigemachtigden. You will be taught:

  • legal knowledge (general, patent law and other law relating to intellectual property, European law/competition) and professional attitude
  • communication skills
  • practical skills relating to patent applications and infringement advice

It requires a great deal of time to complete the training in time, alongside your trainee post and a great deal of home-study will be required.
» Read more about the training

The exams

The Dutch exams for patent attorney consist of 3 test subjects (two patent applications and one advice). The other three examinations test theoretical knowledge. The examinations are taken under the responsibility of the Patent Attorneys Examination Board.
» Read more about the exams

Entering on the register

After three years of work experience under supervision and passing your exams, you can be sworn in and entered on the Register for Patent Attorneys. After this compulsory registration you can start as an independent Dutch patent attorney in an independent practice, at a patent agency or at a company.

Would you also like to become a European patent attorney?

Most Dutch patent attorneys are also European patent attorneys. This requires them to complete a 16-month training course. It also involves a trainee post, but the Dutch trainee post also suffices in that connection. After all, in day-to-day practice every Dutch patent attorney will have to deal with European law as well. Often the Dutch and European training are interchangeable.

Continuous professional development

Once registered, you are obliged to keep up your knowledge. In that way, you will be able to keep abreast of changes in the law, legal precedents and developments in your own discipline.

Also read

» Patent attorney, your kind of profession?
» Vacancies and trainee posts for patent attorneys