Job type

Patent attorney

£27k - £100k

Typical salary

37 – 39

Hours per week

Patent attorneys advise clients on how to apply for patents on new inventions, designs, or processes.

More info

  • Patent lawyers advise and represent clients in applying for and protecting patents and other intellectual property
  • You normally need to have subject knowledge in a relevant area like science, technology or engineering before doing your legal training
  • Can be very well paid work with opportunities to work overseas

As a patent attorney, you'll be responsible for applications for new patents and giving appropriate advice to clients and companies.


  • Meeting inventors or manufacturers
  • Searching existing patents to check the invention or design is original
  • Advising about the chances of being granted a patent
  • Writing a detailed legal description of the invention or design (a patent draft)
  • Applying for patents to the UK Intellectual Property Office or European Patent Office
  • Answering questions from patent examiners
  • Advising clients whose patent rights may have been broken
  • Representing clients if a case comes to court
  • Advising on other issues like design rights and copyright
  • Keeping up-to-date with intellectual property law
  • Coaching new trainees


You could work in a court, in an office or at a client's business.

You'll need

For this role, you'll need legal knowledge (including court procedures and government regulations), knowledge of English language and ability to read English, analytical thinking skills, active listening skills, excellent verbal communication, thoroughness and attention to detail, and the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning.

You'll usually need a degree in a scientific, engineering, mathematical or technical subject. A postgraduate qualification in science or engineering may give you an extra advantage. Once you finish your course, you can apply to work as a trainee in a patent office and study for professional exams while you work.

You may be able to take a postgraduate award in law or intellectual property law, which can count towards qualifications as a patent attorney. Many patent attorney trainees are sent on one of these courses by their employers. If you do a course that covers intellectual property or patent law, it may exempt you from some of the professional training.

You can start out as a technical assistant or trainee patent attorney. This may be in a firm of attorneys, or in an industrial patent department. Once working, you would take further training to qualify. This route can take between 4 and 6 years.

You may be able to find work without a scientific or engineering degree if you have a high-level of technical experience in industry, or if you're a qualified solicitor with experience of working in intellectual property rights. 

You may find it useful to be able to speak one or more European languages, such as French or German.

You can register with the Intellectual Property Regulation Board.


With experience, you could become an associate or partner in a private practice firm. In industry, you could move into management or research and development. You could also choose to become a patent examiner with the UK Intellectual Property Office or European Patent Office. You could become a European patent attorney and work internationally.