Just had a long day.
I took a test. Not just any ordinary test, but one that might be just as important to my future as the bar exam I took back in 2006.
The test, you ask? Officially, it’s the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. More often, it’s called the “patent bar”. If you want to represent someone who is applying for a patent, you have to pass this exam. (There is no analogous “trademark bar” exam, by the way… any licensed attorney in the US can represent clients before the trademark side of the PTO.)
Although it’s called the “patent bar”, you don’t have to have a law course, much less a law degree or law license… but you do have to have a hard science background. It’s 50 multiple-choice questions in a 3-hour morning session, and 50 more in an afternoon session of the same length. It used to be strictly a pencil-and-paper exam, but the default testing mode is now completely computer-based. You sit at a terminal, and you have an electronic version of the manual from which the questions are drawn.
How hard is it? Well… even though everyone who takes it has to have enough brains to get a hard-science or engineering degree, and many are also law graduates, AND everyone who takes the test has access to the main reference material at their test station, less than 60% of the people who take it pass. I know some law school classmates of mine who took it two and three times before passing. (Just as an aside, Bravo Whiskey—that’s Kilo Mike’s sister, whom I talked about in a couple of earlier posts—passed on her first try.)
So, I’m sure you’re all waiting for me to tell you how I did. Well, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news. I didn’t find out what my score was.
As it turns out, that’s also the good news.
When you’re finished with the test, they only give you your score if you failed.
In short, barring some completely unforeseen snafu, I PASSED!!