Gone are the days that a hard science or engineering background were necessary to practice patent law, because the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has announced that a new bar exam is coming for design patent practitioners. A final rule on the matter will be published in the Federal Register today, welcoming professionals with more creative and artistic backgrounds to the field.
According to guidance from the USPTO, applicants for the design patent bar must have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree in one of the following areas, or its equivalent: industrial design, product design, architecture, applied arts, graphic design, fine/studio arts, or art teacher education. The design bar will be similar to the regular patent bar, but with “modified scientific and technical requirements.”
USPTO Director Kathi Vidal issued a statement on the new design bar:
“Year over year we continue to receive more design patent applications, illustrating the importance of design protection to industry and our economy. Expanding the admission criteria of the patent bar encourages broader participation and keeps up with the ever-evolving technology and related teachings that qualify someone to practice before the USPTO.”
Congratulations to everyone who will now be eligible to take the patent bar, starting in January 2024!
Staci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter and Threads or connect with her on LinkedIn.