SEAS and the Patent Bar

Part of the honey that lured me to law school was that there was a barrier to entry to being a patent attorney. This barrier to entry is made explicit in the eligibility requirements for the Patent Bar: if you don’t have an engineering degree, you can’t sit for the Patent Bar.

As you can imagine, not many law students have such degrees; most are squishy history/political science majors. This has the effect of making patent practice exclusive, patent attorneys scarce, and market demand for patent attorneys allegedly high.

What constitutes a “technical background“? In short, if the word ‘engineering’ appears on your degree (i.e. bio-med eng’ring, electrical eng’ring, computer engineering), congratulations, you have met the technical background requirement. The purer math/science degrees are forced to qualify under “Category B”, by dissecting their transcript to find fulfillment of X hours of physics, chemistry, and lab work.

The asterisk here belongs to computer science (CS) degrees. CS degrees will qualify if the university’s CS program is accredited by an organization named ABET. The rationale for the special treatment is unclear to me, but I can imagine that computer science field often inspires less than rigorous analysis.

Guess what Ivy League school has not earned ABET accreditation for its CS degree, making it a pain in the ass to take the patent bar?


  • mung Says:

    what a boner. this is what happens when SEAS folk try to enter the world of real engineering. our BME actually failed ABET accreditation during our time. It looked like UPENN was the only ivy CS to pass the muster.

  • Selfish Crab Says:

    If anyone knows Mort or Jack, feel free to mention this to them in a cocktail party or whatnot.

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