Patent Agents' Exam

(You really don't want to do that to your self, do you?)

NOTE: This list is sadly out-of-date. As information comes in, I will update it, but sometimes this webpage gets low priority. Nevertheless, I hope it provides a good starting point for you.


Well, if you do, here's the deal... If you meet the PTO's requirements for technical education, the Agents' Exam is given once a year, at selected cities. (It's also given once a year if you don't meet the requirements; you just can't take it.) The pass rate is typically 30-60%. The low pass rates aren't really that formidable with a patent review course and enough studying to "pass" old exams by a comfortable margin.

An agent who has been admitted to any U.S. bar (law practice; not to be confused with legal taprooms) can convert his/her'n agency certification to patent lawyer certification, with an identical registration number. I think notification of the PTO of bar membership is a requirement, but I'm not sure.

The exam is again offered twice a year (April 26, & Nov 3 for 1999; Thomas Jefferson proctors it in Year 2000). Also, the entire exam is now multiple choice. This means a change for those courses that specialize in teaching claim drafting. As a practical matter, this also means that you will have to learn claim drafting under apprenticeship.

The 'multiple choice' format also means that it should be possible with enough study and review to assure passing the exam. (This will be more of a truism after the first all-day multiple choice session of April, 99.) One technique is as follows:

- Study the materials. This is where the course helps.
- When you desire, take a previous exam (practice exam), choosing a fairly old one, and figure your score.
- Study more, including those questions you missed
- Take another practice exam.
- Repeat the cycle as you get nearer the exam date.
Obviously, your score will increase as you study. If you pass your last practice test by a comfortable margin, you should be able to pass the real thing.

Typical Curriculums

There are several review courses. The oldest are PLI (Practicing Law Institute of New York), and Kayton (used to be D.C.; now several locations). Most offer about 5 days' work. They vary in quality and atmosphere, but the nature of the material is such that you can choose the review course according to convenience. Video courses are also offered, but I recommend taking the live course unless you wish to just study written text and past exams.

Tape or Live?

It is possible that taped lectures are being offered or will be offered in the near future. I recommend spending the extra money to attend a live lecture. The reason -- The lectures provide a large amount of information, which means that concentration during a live presentation is important. I don't think that this can be achieved by watching a lecture on videotape.

dogPatent Expert Giving Lecture

The Courses

The following are patent bar review courses.

These entries may be inaccurate. If there are any corrections, or additions, please email me. Also for any changed addresses, telephone numbers or URLs, please email me. Stan Protigal - email link

PLI (Practicing Law Institute)
- They are a bar review and CLE outfit, mostly focusing on the New York bar, but have a very good patent review program. They publish Landis on Claim Drafting, which is the standard text for learning patent claims. They use several lecturers, so you don't get burned out with one style of lecturing. They have practice sessions, which I presume most courses do. The course is held in downtown Manhattan (NY Hilton) and San Francisco (Palace Hotel). The NY location gave me the opportunity to commute by subway, with full knowledge that long before the novelty of it all wore off, I would be back in Vermont studying. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a lot, despite the fact that I stayed with my cousins, who did inhale. If you can afford to take the course in New York City, it's a fun experience!
810 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10019-5857;, or (look up '6_ Pat.Bar' in their index) Their phone number is in letters - as if anyone intends to memorize it! (but try 1-888-217-6424 or 888-296-5973), fax 800-321-0093, John Greene is listed as their registration person, at (212) 824-5775 or
(update, 12-98) - PLI did acquire Longacre/White Patent Bar Review, so PLI now has two patent bar review courses. PLI will continue its live course at NYC. The L/W course will be held at 7 locations, plus video courses. Jim Longacre apparently started another review course, listed below.

- Officially, Patent Resources Group. Kayton is a fixture in the patent bar review business. He personally teaches a substantial portion of the class. Some people consider him to be egotistical, but generally consider the course to be good. The course used to be held in Washington, D.C., and still has a course in that area so you get to visit the Patent Office, which is a thrill of a lifetime -- why bother with the Smithsonian and Hirshorn when get to see a room full of patent lawyers, searchers and government clerks? They have since set up courses in Pasadena, Illinois, as well as the D.C. area (most recently Bethesda, MD). 804 296 3900; fax 804-296-3999, and on-line information at Email is (if they're still with AOL)

- Readers with a law background will immediately recognize this organization as the largest provider of bar review courses. They are newcomers to the patent bar field, and I don't know much about their patent bar courses.

Meanwhile here's their email:
To: <>

Dear webmaster,

BAR/BRI Patent Bar Review is a new patent bar review course that began preparing students for the October 2000 patent bar exam. We offer full service patent bar exam preparation along with other resources on our website.

The URL is

Thank you for your time.

Jack A. Halprin, Esq.   Director   BAR/BRI Patent Bar Review

I wish them luck and am sure they'll do an excellent job. I took their Washington (DC) bar review course back in '78 and then took their Washington (state) bar review course in '97.

The Academy of Intellectual Property Law / Dr. Peter Geissler
Dr. Peter Geissler provides courses on the US Patent Bar, as well as classes in European Patent Office practice. There are apparently two levels of courses, as indicated by the $4800 and $2400 prices listed under identical course descriptions.

The difference between the $2400 course and the $4800 course is that the latter consists of morning sessions plus afternoon sessions, whereas the former consists of morning sessions only.

The morning session ($2400) consists of an interactive tutorial involving a dialogue about U.S. patent law.

The afternoon session is directed to test questions (from prior U.S. Patent Bar examinations). They state that they tie this in with the rules of law taught in the morning session. (Since most people take the course for test prep, it is likely they will benefit from the full course.) The morning interactive/afternoon test prep approach seems promising, and I hope it works out. If this approach works out on test day, it should be a good education.   760-942-9047
(biography of Dr. Geissler)

John Marshall Law School
- I don't know anything about them, other than I heard they exist, and they've been around for awhile (the patent course, that is; we know John Marshall Law School exists). 315 S Plymouth Ct, Chicago, IL 60604-3907; 312-987-1420

Patent Office Exam Review Course at University of Houston Law Center
Dress warmly. Houston, TX 77204-6371; 713 743 2180

"Pass the Patent Bar" (Jim Longacre)
- The Longacre name had been associated with bar reviews which were held at different locations across the country. Jim Longacre, whose office is in the D.C. area, now has started a new course. In 2002, Washington, NYC and SF are listed. The website has inviting information on it, but most of the pages can't be reached by people who aren't registered. (Fortunately for both the course organizers and candidates, the website will probably take generic stuff for name and email address. Their website seems to be managed by an ISP, so if you give them a valid email address...)

West Patent Bar Review
- At one time West made a decision to become a major player in bar review courses. Their former patent group, Longacre/White Patent Bar Review was acquired by PLI in 1998. If West is doing patent bar reviews, I would find out if they are using third-party text materials, or they limit their course to their own publications. There are several text "standards" around, including Landis on Patent Claim Drafting. I'd want at least that one of those standards in my course. 1-888-217-6424 (but this could be PLI). West's website is, but I couldn't find anything there. Their old was down last time I checked.

Patent Bar Seminars, Inc.
I lost track of them and they may have ceased operation. If you are out there, please get in touch!
- This course originally specialized in to the claim drafting part of the test (the old afternoon session of the exam.) People who wanted to study from pre-existing written materials, rather than class would take this course for the old "practical" portion of the exam. This fit a niche, because if you need to re-take the practical part, this may be the way to go. Also if you're inclined to study for the morning session on your own, then you may want the focus of this course for the afternoon session. They claim to offer a different teaching approach than Kayton and PLI that they believe has proven quite successful. They're another newcomer, out of Denver. They also have courses in L.A. and D.C. . 800-364-3102 (may be out of service); fax 303-861-9111.
- (Formerly IPS) IPS had classes in 12 locations. At the time, I had fun with pointing out such hot spots as Houston and Detroit (This is in June!) Now I can't make fun of their locations because they are a "Home Study Kit. Their website is , which come to think of it is pretty suggestive of their business name. (They're also listed at their old website,; email at .

Their website includes a graph which shows the scientific principle that after about 3 hours of study time, the brain turns to mush.

Studying for the patent bar may turn your brain into mush anyway. If you are buying a home study course, make sure you really want a home study course. Home study of patent law from scratch is not for the faint at heart. On the other hand, there are people who already know the basics, and may prefer to go the home study route.

David Everett Meeks
PO Box 980, Warwick, NY 10990; 1-800-392-6512; fax 1-888-477-4776 (international +1-607-763-8753; fax +1-607-763-8755).

American Flyers
- 800-362-0808 Do something useful with your life and get an air transport pilot license instead. (no, they don't offer a patent bar course)

These are the ones I know about, and I'm sure there are others. Let me know of any changes, etc.

(dog)Patent Expert Examining Aileron Invention

What to Look For

Most of us in the patent field have little experience in evaluation of the different courses. I took and enjoyed PLI, and a group of agents I trained elected Kayton. In both instances location was the primary reason. Also note that you may have friends/collegues/enemies who you will want to take the course with.

So here are the things to look for:

what others have taken. Unfortunately this only will cover a few of the courses.
Number of lecturers.
One primary lecturer can do a high quality job, but some people prefer a course structured around multiple lecturers. This one's easy to check out.
Afternoon workshops
Which of course can be any time of day. These mostly relate to techniques of writing for the afternoon session of the exam. This is also a matter of personal preference. This is one of the advantages of using several lecturers -- they are cajoled into doing the workshops. Patent Bar Seminars, Inc. of course is focused on the afternoon session.
Use of standard text materials.
Unlike bar review materials, the 'standards' are the best. I still use my old Landis on Claim Drafting (but it's the 'yellow' edition).

Preliminary Materials for Study

35 U.S.C. §§ 21, 25, 26, 101-157, 301-376
37 C.F.R. §§ 1.28-1.55, 1.56 together with 1.97-1.98, 1.60-1.64, 1.71-1.79, 1.116-1.127, 1.131-1.137, 1.181, 1.191-1.198, 1.312, 1.401, et seq.

These are not all "commit to memory" items and is not a comprehensive list of items covered. It is presented only to let people get a head start on themselves prior to receiving the study materials from someone who knows more about the patent bar coverage than I do.

More study materials are described by Bruce Ross, at Don't worry - a structured course will help you sort all of this out.

U.S. Patent Office - Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED)

General Phone #'s Voice: 703-308-5316 - Fax: 703-308-5276
Application Request #'s Voice: 703-306-4097 Ext. 18 - Fax: 703-306-4134


Let me know of any changes, etc. Courtesy Stan Protigal - Comments about this site: email me

Written by 'Dude'Stan Protigal
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