Patent agents represent individuals formally trained in the laws of intellectual property management, who can represent the interests of inventors in front of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to Steven C. Oppenheimer, licensed U.S. patent agent. The first-year income of a patent agent starts around $45,000 based on 2010 data from PayScale.com. However, this number can vary with location, type of workplace or prior education in other fields.
Several metropolitan areas provide high compensations for legal professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks among the top-paying states, the District of Columbia, New York state, Delaware, California and Georgia. A first-year patent agent working in Washington, D.C. or in New York, New York, receives an income starting at least at $90,000, based on 2010 data from Indeed.com. His California counterparts enjoy salaries starting at $80,000.
Patent agents work primarily in the private sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A majority of the jobs reside in Intellectual Property Law Firms that offer entry-level salaries starting at $60,000, based on 2010 data from Indeed.com. The job typically involves drafting the description of inventors’ novel concepts, researching the database of patents from the USPTO to find prior art, submitting a patent to the USPTO and managing the interactions with the patent examiners. Positions with corporations or universities offer starting salaries between $30,000 and $40,000.
Underground degrees in physics or engineering can boost entry incomes by an additional $20,000, according to Patent Bar Study. For instance, patent agents with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry receive first-year incomes starting at $70,000, according to Indeed.com. Individuals with software development background can start with annual incomes around $60,000.
Some industry segments have experienced large expansion in intellectual property development. For instance, the United States' liberal patent laws accept pharmaceutical and biotechnology patents. As a result, patent agents with background in life sciences have become in demand to manage the large amount of intellectual property developed by these market segments. First-year patent agents with experience in biotechnology or life science can command incomes starting at $70,000 on average, based on data from Indeed.com.
Additional perks complement first-year salaries such as medical benefits for 85 percent of patent agent, according to Payscale.com. Similarly, 65 percent of agents receive dental care coverage. Employers also subsidize vision care for 49 percent of these professionals. Some firms may add an annual bonus that range between $3,000 and $11,000.
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