In Summary - Patent Examiner
The Work - Patent Examiner
Patent applications are typically submitted to the Patents Office by professional Patent Agents (Also known as Patent Attorneys), who are qualified to advocate on behalf of their inventor/clients. The patent applications are then examined by an experienced Patent Examiner. The Patents Office in Ireland is a public sector body. Patents Examiners are employed by the state through the public sector recruitment process.
Patent Examiners investigate applications from people who want to protect their invention. They act in the world of intellectual property rights; this term covers patents, registered trademarks, registered design rights and copyright.
The Patent Examiner's job is to make sure the application meets the requirements of patent legislation.
After reading a description of the invention and its intended uses, which may include drawings or chemical formulae, the Patent Examiner searches through patent publications to make sure the invention really is new and inventive. The government will only grant the patent if it is satisfied that it meets these criteria.
The Patent Examiner uses both United Kingdom and international patent documents in the search, as well as other technical literature and computer databases. The Examiner sends the search results to the applicant, or more often to their Patent Agent, who together must decide whether to carry on the second stage of the application.
At the second stage, the Patent Examiner checks that the description is clear and easy for others to understand, decides if the claims are original and inventive, and carries out a much more detailed investigation of the applicant's claims. A period of correspondence between examiner and applicant (through the Patent Agent) follows, to discuss any matters raised by the examiner's findings.
Principal Examiners make the decision in cases where disputes cannot be resolved. A barrister can represent the inventor if they appeal against a rejection of their application at this stage.
Interests - Patent Examiner
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
As a Patent Examiner, you will need the scientific and technical ability to analyse and interpret patent applications, including technical drawings.
You will need an analytical mind, and must be thorough, methodical and logical when you assess applications. You must be a confident decision-maker, and able to show how you reached your decisions.
You need to be patient and pay close attention to detail when you search for existing patents.
You need good communication skills to work closely with Patent Agents, and to produce reports of your findings and recommendations.
Entry Requirements - Patent Examiner
A degree level qualification in a STEM subject area, (Science, Technology, Mathematics or any branch of Engineering), or an equivalent qualification such as membership of one of the major professional bodies.
Patent Examiners who specialise in the pharmaceuticals area typically hold PhD level qualifications.
Patent Examiners working for the Irish Patents Office are civil service administrative officers and must meet the Public Service requirements for the role. Once appointed, you will receive on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced Patent Examiner. Training usually lasts for 24 months and includes attending seminars and courses to gain knowledge of patent law. You will also receive training in French and German, the working languages of the European Patent Office, alongside English.
Last Updated: October, 2014
Pay & Salary - Patent Examiner
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 32k - 62k
Last Updated: April, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Patent Examiner
Useful Contacts - Patent Examiner
Public Appointments Service
Association of Patent and Trademark Attorneys (APTMA)
European Patent Office
- See website for individual location addresses
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Irish Patents Office
Public Appointments Service
The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys (CIPA)