My work as a patent attorney mainly involves drafting and filing patent applications and representing clients of the chemical industry in patent cases before the European Patent Office and its Boards of Appeal, before the World Intellectual Property Organization, and, albeit to a lesser extent, before the German Patent and Trademark Office and the German Federal Patent Court. Furthermore, I deal with patent portfolios of clients in proceedings before foreign patent authorities worldwide in cooperation with the colleagues there, as well as with patent law advice to clients in general, which includes the preparation of infringement and validity opinions.
In my professional life I am mostly busy with processing patent files and informative exchanges with the respective client or foreign colleague. However, there is a lot of variety, due to the different matters you deal with, the interactions with colleagues in the office as well as the oral hearings, which are held before patent offices and appeal boards.
Overall, patent attorney work is very varied and exciting and requires a correspondingly high level of personal commitment, combined with mostly longer working hours and occasional weekend work.
Why did you decide to study chemistry at that time??
After graduating from high school, I initially decided to study law, for which I developed a keen interest but not necessarily enthusiasm. Due to this I decided to change to a study of chemistry, because chemistry had already interested me very much as a pupil in the advanced course. My current job has the advantage of combining these two areas of interest to me.
When did you decide on your current profession and have your expectations of it changed, if necessary?. Fulfilled from your time as a student?
I first learned about becoming a patent attorney at the beginning of my undergraduate major in chemistry, when I was looking for alternatives to a "traditional" career as a chemist followed by work in industry. Two internships during semester breaks, one in a patent department of a chemical company and then one in a patent law firm gave me a good insight into my future job, which has also proven to be successful. However, I only actually decided on the profession during my doctoral studies.
What do you think is the most important thing you learned in college for your current job?
To be a patent attorney, it is especially important to have a broad knowledge of chemistry, as you will be working in many different areas of technology.
What additional qualifications should you acquire during your studies that are useful or essential for your current profession?
It is not necessary to acquire an additional legal qualification already during studies to become a patent attorney. However, acquiring some initial legal knowledge during your studies, for example in a lecture on patent law for scientists, as is often offered, is certainly advantageous, especially if you have not yet had any contact with legal matters.
Especially as a chemist, a doctorate is a useful prerequisite for the profession of a patent attorney, since one usually has to deal with chemists with doctorates, both on the side of the clients and on the side of the patent offices.
Is there anything in your studies that has remained particularly memorable for you??
The study was a very beautiful and interesting time from which much has remained in my memory. I particularly remember the time as a doctoral student.
Did you play with the idea to do something else after the diploma than to follow up with the doctorate?
For me, the doctoral thesis was always the goal of my studies.
What advice would you give to first-year students who also want to pursue your profession later on?
I can only recommend to first-year students to get an insight into the profession as early as possible due to the special orientation in the legal field. This orientation is not necessarily for everyone.