The Job Description of a Patent Paralegal


A patent is an award by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that permits the patent owner to maintain a monopoly for a restricted period of time on the development and use of an innovation or invention. Patent law is sub-specialty of intellectual property law. Intellectual property law is a specialty of transactional law. Patent litigation is a separate but related practice area.


  • Employers advertise for patent paralegals using a variety of titles. They include paralegal, intellectual property paralegal, legal specialist, patent coordinator, patent paralegal, patent docketing paralegal and patent docketing clerk. Two resources for finding patent paralegal positions are national legal staffing companies, including Kelly Law Registry and Robert Half Legal, and general job search engines, including Jobs posted by these sources in May 2010 provide education and experience requirements, salary ranges and job duties and responsibilities.


  • As is common with most advertised paralegal positions, a bachelor's degree plus a paralegal certificate was the most common education requirement in the patent paralegal jobs found in May 2010. Other less common requirements were a World Intellectual Property Organization Advanced Patents course, a certificate in patent administration and a science degree.


  • The length of paralegal experience required in the May 2010 patent paralegal job postings ranged from two to seven years. Most required between three and five years of patent or general intellectual property experience. Other less common experience preferences included pharmaceutical or biotech industry experience.

Software Proficiency

  • General-purpose software proficiencies required in the May 2010 job postings included Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel and Adobe Acrobat Professional. Patent-specific software proficiencies included the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's patent application information retrieval system and electronic filing system, iPACT, MicroPatent, Epoline and Computer Packages Inc.'s calendaring system.


  • Robert Half Legal job postings from May 2010 provided annual salary ranges. A Houston IP docketing paralegal with at least two years of experience with patent filings had a salary range of $38,000 to $50,000. A Chicago patent paralegal with at least three years of experience had a salary range of $55,000 to $65,000. Another Chicago patent coordinator with five or more years of docketing and patent prosecution experience had a salary range of $65,000 to $75,000.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Patent paralegal duties and responsibilities include maintaining docket system of due dates, Patent Cooperation Treaty requirements and payments of patent annuities in foreign countries; coordinating international filings with foreign law firms and other foreign entities; preparing status summary reports for attorneys and clients; and performing online searches of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records, industry databases and other legal research. They also include drafting responses to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office actions and oppositions, patent applications, basic patent office transmittals, responses to missing parts and information disclosure statements.

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