Patent Specialists include patent examiners and patent attorneys/agents.
Patent examiners consider patent applications for new inventions/products/intellectual property and report on whether they comply with the requirements of patent legislation, before patent rights can be granted to inventors to give them the right to stop other people using, selling or making their inventions.
The role also includes checking that the invention is new, not merely an adjustment to something which already exists, by carrying out searches using local and foreign patent specifications, technical literature and databases. Patent examiners also make sure the application meets the formal requirements of the relevant Patent Offices and is technically sound.
Patent examiners develop specialist expertise within a particular area such as biotechnology, but opportunities may arise to change specialist subject areas.
A patent attorney (otherwise known as a patent agent) assesses whether inventions are new and innovative and therefore eligible to be patented. They work using the disciplines of science, law and language, to lead individual inventors or companies through the required process to obtain a patent. They then act to enforce inventors' rights if patents are infringed.
The majority of patent attorneys work in private firms, with the rest employed by large manufacturing organisations across many branches of industry, or in government departments.
Patent attorneys are also trained broadly across the range of intellectual property rights and can usually advise on a number of related issues. They have the same rights as solicitors and barristers to conduct litigation and act as advocates.