Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law - Beus Center for Law and Society Snell & Wilmer Plaza

Patent Practice FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Patent Practice program

Only the Office of Enrollment and Discipline at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can determine eligibility for anyone to sit for the patent bar exam. The College of Law does not opine on applicants' eligibility. There is a process interested persons can utilize to have eligibility declared or declined before enrolling in the MLS-Patent Practice program.

Our graduates excel in any job in which a detailed understanding of patent law and a general understanding of intellectual property and the US legal system would be beneficial. The specific jobs include patent agents, technology transfer professionals, technical employees in general counsels' offices, and many more.

A patent agent, formally referred to as a registered patent agent by the USPTO, is a non-lawyer that has passed the patent bar exam and met the other requirements to represent others in patent matters before the USPTO.

IP is an abbreviation for intellectual property. The generally accepted types of intellectual property are patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets.

No, an entrance exam is not required as part of the admissions policies for the program.

Yes, many of the courses for the patent practice program are in the same IP courses as law students.

No, participation in the program will not have any effect on how your JD application is evaluated.

No, the American Bar Association does not allow credits earned before formally enrolling as a JD student to count toward an accredited law degree.

At this time, there is not a fully online version of the program.

Yes, the MLS-Patent Practice degree program can be completed in up to three years.

The program can be started in either the Fall or Spring semester. Summer is not available. Students beginning in the Spring should work closely with their advisor to ensure the proper order and timing of courses.

Patent Bar Exam

The Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases ("patent bar exam") is overseen by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The exam is offered in a computer-based format ($200) or paper-based format ($450). The computer-based exam is offered most business days at testing centers across the country.

The exam itself focuses on the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP). The exam consists of 100 multiple choice questions, of which 90 will be graded The other ten are beta questions being tested for future exams. There are 50 questions given during a three hour morning session and 50 questions given in a three hour afternoon session. A score of 70% correct (or 63 of the 90 graded questions) is required to pass the exam. A copy of the MPEP is available to test takers during the examination.

There are many commercial patent bar preparation courses available that focus solely on preparation for the patent bar exam. Not only does the patent practice program prepare students for the patent bar exam, but students are encouraged to purchase a commercially available patent bar prep course when preparing to sit for the exam.

For full time students, if students purchase and use a commercially available prep course during the Spring semester, they will be prepared to sit for the patent bar exam between the Spring semester and Summer sessions. Part time students timing will vary and is based on individual circumstances.