The protection of industrial property rights (IP) is a generic term covering the industrial property rights to intangible goods, including in particular patent law, but also, for example, trademark and design law. Not only legal knowledge is required, but also a technical qualification, so that not only attorneys-at-law are active in this field, but also patent attorneys who have the necessary technical or scientific expertise.
In Germany there are currently about 165,000 registered attorneys at law, of which about 1,300 have a specialisation in intellectual property law. Most of them work in large law firms and medium-sized units - also in cooperation with patent attorneys. In contrast, there are about 4,000 patent attorneys, most of whom work in law firms. These are mostly medium-sized units - also in cooperation with attorneys-at-law or - much less frequently - large law firms.
Due to the continuously increasing number of patents and protective measures for trademarks and logos, the professional prospects for patent attorneys in law firms as well as attorneys-at-law in patent law continue to be generally very good. In particular, the fact that Germany is very popular as a location for patent disputes in Europe due to the comparatively low costs of litigation, speedy proceedings and high professional competence of the deciding judges plays an important role. At the same time, the European Patent Office (EPO) has lost credibility due to its lack of expertise, as it has often been criticised for lack of expertise. In addition, there are considerable problems in the introduction of the new European patent system with a central patent court.
Due to the Brexit and the associated development that English patent and trademark law firms are increasingly establishing locations in Germany, as well as due to digitalization, it is expected that - similar to the legal law firm market in the 2000s - there will be more mergers of medium-sized patent law firms in the next few years, thus creating larger (international) units with all their advantages and disadvantages. These must be taken into account when starting a career or/and also later when changing careers.