A lesson in patent law
In summary, a patent is a property right that describes the scope of an invention. Basically, if you have a patent for an idea, you take the credit for owning that idea. If someone is taking credit for your patented idea, you can sue for patent infringement. Patent litigation, which means accusing of infringement or defending against it, is one of the many practices of patent law firms. There are two basic types of firms.
General practice firms “do everything,” while boutique firms are specialized. Abrams once worked at a general practice firm with over 1,500 lawyers, and is now part of a firm that specializes in intellectual property.
Why patent law? Engineers are actually suited for jobs as patent lawyers because their technical background allows them to really understand the patent and the case.
“Our cases run the gamut, from medical devices to metallurgy to plastics. What I find really interesting is the opportunity to delve deeply into technical areas that I wouldn’t see otherwise,” Abrams said.
As part of his job, Abrams has had the opportunity to learn new skills, from using medical devices in an operation procedure to speaking a little Japanese. “Law is an interesting career in the sense that you get these opportunities to work on a variety of things and with a variety of people,” Abrams said. “For me, it’s been a very fascinating career and I really, really enjoy it.”
The job market for law school grads has been contracting, Abrams said, and there’s no guarantee of success. While patent law used to be considered the “path to an easy job” for engineers, today’s conditions have made it a career choice that should not be taken lightly. “Don’t do it just to have a job,” Abrams advised. “Do it because you want to be a lawyer.”