Freelance Patent Profession

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Labor Day is fast approaching the in the US, signaling the end of summer and give workers a brief respite from the daily grind. I was reading an interesting article on The Atlantic’s website today, about how the composition of the US workforce is slowly changing to a more freelance-based economy due to layoffs, outsourcing of jobs, life-long careers at one company going by the wayside, and people interested in pursuing their passions rather than a career. This reminded me that the patent industry is probably way ahead of the pack in the freelance economy.

What does a freelance economy mean to the patent industry? Danny Rooney has a short and sweet take on it after the jump.


While much of the patent industry still remains in the traditional model through employment at a law firm or at a large corporation, it also have its fair share of contractors, sole-proprietors, or part-timers, similar to many other industries. However, what this business has that others do not is that it lends itself nicely to solo work. Generally, all you need is a computer, a phone, and some paper to take notes. Lawyers in all fields have been aware of this for some time, as the nature of being a lawyer requires long hours, many of which occur at a home office. I also know many a lawyer who decided to leave their firm and go out on their own. Furthermore, once someone establishes themselves as competent in their field, their work, not their location, speaks for them.

So while the nature of the work lends itself to a freelance economy, does this mean that a freelance economy will significantly change the patent industry? Probably not, as the barriers to entry are quite high. The cost and time of a technical degree and the law degree coupled with passing the two dreaded bar exams, puts becoming a patent lawyer out of reach for most people. Even searching or paralegal type work generally requires a minimum of a technical degree to succeed, with advanced technical degrees being more helpful. Those requirements are likely not going to change anytime soon. However, for those within the industry who encounter various life changes, the ability to stay within the field is more likely today than ever, although not always at the level that one may be accustomed to.

As Labor Day provides those of us in the US a chance to celebrate our work, now is also the time to realize where the workforce is headed in the future, and think about what each of us can do to make ourselves as successful as possible, however we define success.

What do you think about freelance work in the patent world? We’re very interested to hear what you have to say in the comments section below!

Next time: Danny realized he didn’t have any fun, so he goes back in time to add a bunch of links, just for the heck of it, click here, here, and here. Sorry Rebecca Black, you make it so easy. If you like my fifth cousin Wayne’s work (or how I learned to love what Cesc Fabregas has done to Arsenal), click here and here
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Find previous writings and musings from the off-kilter Danny Rooney here: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #11, #12.

Patent Information from Landon IP

This post was contributed by Registered Patent Agent Dan Wolka and edited by Chris Jagalla. The Intellogist blog is provided for free by Intellogist’s parent company, Landon IP, a major provider of patent search, technical translation, and information services.

3 Responses

  1. Hi Dan, I don’t believe the two should be connected. If individuals are attracted to the work, have the intellectual capacity to undertake the necessary training and see a potential return on that investment then they will enter the profession. That is a separate issue from the model those individuals will then choose to practice under: joining and building a career with an established firm; starting in practice on their own or getting experience under their belts with an established employer before going solo.

    The potential for freelancing to change the patent industry, along with many other areas of “knowledge work” remains enormous.

  2. […] came across this post from the Intellogist blog of IP and patent specialists, Landon […]

  3. I agree with Andrew. I used a company called mogambo solutions to draft a patent application related in the biotech field. the company touts itself as a search company, and they offered very low cost patent drafting services. i definitely got what i paid for, as the draft claims made no sense and contained so many formality errors and SPELLING ERRORS! i would stick to having patent drafting needs conducting by a law firm with experienced patent prosecutors, even if it means paying a bit more. hey you invest so much to develop your idea, it is worth the money to see that it is protected properly. also i am now worried that the drafting was sent overseas to india and not sure how that will affect things. bottom line, stick to US law firms for your US prosecution needs.

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