USPTO registration examination
In order to be registered as a patent agent or patent attorney
Patent attorney
A patent attorney is an attorney who has the specialized qualifications necessary for representing clients in obtaining patents and acting in all matters and procedures relating to patent law and practice, such as filing an opposition...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, one must pass the United States Patent and Trademark Office
United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification.The USPTO is based in Alexandria, Virginia,...

 (USPTO) registration examination
, officially called the Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent Cases Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and known informally as the patent bar.


Persons who pass the registration exam and become admitted as patent agents before admission to a state bar are allowed to change registration to patent attorney upon supplying the USPTO with proof of good standing in a state or territorial bar.

Tested subject matter

The examination is intended to measure the applicant's familiarity with USPTO procedures, ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

 rules, federal statutes, and regulations. The applicant is allowed to use an electronic copy of the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure
Manual of Patent Examining Procedure
The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure is published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office for use by patent attorneys and agents and patent examiners. It describes all of the laws and regulations that must be followed in the examination of U.S. patent applications, and articulates...

 (MPEP) in the computer-based examination and a paper copy of the MPEP in the pencil-and-paper test but no other material. A large number of questions typically deal with the proper drafting and handling of a U.S.
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 patent application or international application
Patent Cooperation Treaty
The Patent Cooperation Treaty is an international patent law treaty, concluded in 1970. It provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states...



The exam is a 100-question, six hour, multiple-choice
Multiple choice
Multiple choice is a form of assessment in which respondents are asked to select the best possible answer out of the choices from a list. The multiple choice format is most frequently used in educational testing, in market research, and in elections-- when a person chooses between multiple...

 test. The test is divided into morning and afternoon sections. The applicant is provided 3 hours to complete 50 questions in the morning, and another 3 hours to complete 50 questions in the afternoon.

The exam contains 10 beta questions which do not count towards the exam taker's final score, but there is no way to know which of the 100 questions are among these 10 ungraded questions. The required score to pass is 70%, or 63 correct out of the 90 graded questions. Statistics from examinations administered from June 9, 2005 through October 17, 2006 show that 58.2% of the 4,165 candidates passed the exam (based on MPEP 8th Edition, Revision 2).

Before June 2004, the USPTO registration exam was a pencil-and-paper test given at approximately 15 locations around the country. The USPTO has moved to a computer-based examination which can be taken on any business day at any of several hundred Prometric
Prometric is a U.S. company in the test administration industry. Prometric operates a test center network composed of over 10,000 sites in 160 countries...

 locations around the country. A sample computerized exam is available to provide a feel for how the exam is administered, but this "practice exam" contains no sample questions. Once an applicant has been approved to sit for the exam, he or she has 90 days in which to schedule an examination date with Prometric. The pencil-and-paper test is still offered once a year at the USPTO's office.

Past exams are available through the USPTO's Office of Enrollment and Discipline, both in printed format for a fee, and online without cost.


The USPTO requires that all those applying for registration (agents or attorneys) meet three requirements: (1) good moral character, (2) legal, scientific and technical qualifications necessary to render valuable service, and (3) competence to advise and assist patent applicants in the presentation and prosecution of patent applications. The registration exam primarily addresses the third requirement. The second requirement is typically met with a bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in a recognized technical subject; the USPTO calls this "Category A" eligibility. These fields include biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

, chemistry
Chemistry is the science of matter, especially its chemical reactions, but also its composition, structure and properties. Chemistry is concerned with atoms and their interactions with other atoms, and particularly with the properties of chemical bonds....

, computer science
Computer science
Computer science or computing science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and of practical techniques for their implementation and application in computer systems...

, most engineering
Engineering is the discipline, art, skill and profession of acquiring and applying scientific, mathematical, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design and build structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes that safely realize improvements to the lives of...

 disciplines, and physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

. Two other options are available to satisfy the second requirement: having enough semester hours of specific science courses ("Category B") or passing the Fundamentals of Engineering exam
Fundamentals of Engineering exam
The Fundamentals of Engineering exam, also referred to as the Engineer in Training exam, and formerly in some states as the Engineering Intern exam, is the first of two examinations that engineers must pass in order to be licensed as a Professional Engineer in the United States...

 ("Category C"). Note that the requirements for Category B eligibility are considerably more onerous than for Category A—not only must the candidate provide official college transcripts, he or she must supply a copy of the official course description, concurrent with the year that the course was taken, for each course used to establish eligibility for the exam.

Degrees in the philosophical arts
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 (such as pure mathematics
Pure mathematics
Broadly speaking, pure mathematics is mathematics which studies entirely abstract concepts. From the eighteenth century onwards, this was a recognized category of mathematical activity, sometimes characterized as speculative mathematics, and at variance with the trend towards meeting the needs of...

) or the social sciences
Social sciences
Social science is the field of study concerned with society. "Social science" is commonly used as an umbrella term to refer to a plurality of fields outside of the natural sciences usually exclusive of the administrative or managerial sciences...

 (such as sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

) are not sufficient by themselves to meet the technical training requirement. However, the scientific and technical training requirement can be fulfilled by submitting proof of 40 semester hours of undergraduate courses in the above fields, 8 of which must consist of either two consecutive semesters of physics for scientists and engineers with laboratory or two consecutive semesters of general chemistry with laboratory. Consecutive means that the two courses cover one curriculum, such as physics 101 and 102. All 40 semester hours can be completed at community colleges and do not have to result in any bachelor of science degree. All of the courses must be applicable towards a degree in the subject. For example, physics with calculus would count, while physics without calculus, usually taken by other majors, would not. Other Category B qualifications allow for one without a bachelors degree in a listed field to also demonstrate he or she has had 24 semester hours in physics for physics majors (called Option 1), 32 semester hours in chemistry, physics and biology (called Option 2) or 30 semester hours in chemistry for chemistry majors.


Non-U.S. citizens wishing to practice before the USPTO in their own country may also register by meeting the same requirements if the individual is registered to practice before the patent office in their country of residence AND if their country has a reciprocity agreement with the U.S. Currently, only one country, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, has such an agreement. However, the USPTO makes no effort to verify; the requirement exists merely on paper and has no force. Such registration is granted for the limited purpose of representing patent applicants from the individual's country of residence before the USPTO. Non-U.S. citizens legally residing in the United States, having a valid nonimmigrant work visa, and already employed by a patent firm in a patent prosecution role (often referred to as a "technical specialist") may take the exam in order to gain limited recognition to act as a patent agent for applications being handled through their employer. This law on Aliens, 37 C.F.R. 11.6(c), is not enforced by the USPTO Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED). However, employees of the USPTO must be U.S. citizens and this is verified in a background check; patent agents who want to work for the USPTO must first become U.S. citizens.

Pass rates

Pass rates for the examination have ranged from 37 percent to 70 percent over the past several years.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.