USPTO Proposes Changes for Requirements to Qualify for the Patent Bar

On Tuesday, March 23, 2021, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a Request for Comments to ask for public input of proposed changes to the General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Current Eligibility Requirements

Three main categories are used to show eligibility:

  • Category A “Bachelor’s Degree in a Recognized Technical Subject”

  • Category B “Bachelor’s Degree in Another Subject”

  • Category C “Practical Engineering or Scientific Experience”

If an applicant’s bachelor’s degree falls into Category A, they do not have to do anything beyond show proof of their degree. If the Applicant’s bachelor’s falls into Category B they must show a certain number of credit hours in physics, chemistry, biology, or some engineering courses to the satisfaction of the Office. If an Applicant has a graduate degree in a Category A subject, but their bachelor’s is not, then they must prove they have the requisite scientific knowledge to the satisfaction of the Office.

Proposed Changes for Eligibility to Qualify for the Patent Bar

The proposed changes address the different categories for eligibility to sit for the Patent Bar. The changes would move degrees in aerospace engineering, bioengineering, biological science, biophysics, electronics engineering, genetic engineering, genetics, marine engineering, materials, engineering, materials science, neuroscience, ocean engineering, and textile engineering from Category B to Category A. The Office wants to make this change as Applicants with these degrees are able to show proficiency often enough to warrant the move. Another proposed change is to accept Category A graduate degrees without the extra requirement to prove knowledge. Finally, there is a proposal to accept a combination of core science courses under one of the options in Category B if they include a lab component. These changes are intended to help the efficiency of the application process. 

The USPTO is accepting comments from the public on these proposed changes until May 24, 2021. Comments may be made on the Federal Register website.

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