With the completion of the second state examination in law, it is important for many young professionals to find the right subject area. Often, during their studies or legal clerkship, they have already chosen corresponding positions in law firms and companies. The field of patent law is usually organised in the law firms as part of the practice group "Intellectual Property", which then includes not only patent law but also know-how, trademark and design law, unfair competition and often also copyright law. The field of activity in patent law is then mainly concerned with the protection and use of intellectual property rights in patent and trademark disputes as well as support in transactions.
After passing the German patent attorney examination, you are entitled to bear the title of patent assessor if you have completed a university degree in natural sciences or technology and have completed additional training in law, usually lasting about three years. If you are applying for admission as a patent attorney because you want to work independently, you can use this title with an entry in the register of patent attorneys. This entitles you to represent your clients before the German Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Patent Court in matters of industrial property protection as well as before the Federal Supreme Court (BGH) in patent nullity appeal proceedings, in exceptional cases also before the Regional Court and Higher Regional Court. In addition, you are entitled to advise others and represent them vis-à-vis third parties in matters concerning services enhancing technology. This includes the registration of utility models and patents and, in the case of objections, to conduct any official proceedings in this regard. Most patent attorneys are also admitted to practice before the European Patent Office (European Patent Attorney), which also requires an examination, the so-called European Qualifying Examination.
In addition to patent law, a further focus of training - especially at the Patent Office and the Patent Court - is on trademark law. Patent attorneys, who have a main focus of their activities and also their legal advisory competence in this field, then usually bear the professional title "Patent and Trademark Attorney". In addition, there are focal points in consulting with regard to industrial sectors such as automotive, health care, etc., which, however, are usually already determined by their studies.
Close cooperation between patent attorneys and attorneys at law is particularly necessary in patent infringement litigation, with litigation being handled by the latter. The legal proceedings, which are often conducted in parallel, are usually conducted by patent attorneys, if necessary together with attorneys-at-law.