The Patent Exam

In order to practice before the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) as a patent attorney, one must register and pass the patent exam, also known as the patent bar. The applicant must also demonstrate he or she is of good moral character and reputation, possesses the legal, scientific, and technical qualifications necessary for him/her to render valuable service and is competent to advise and assist patent applicants in the presentation and prosecution of their applications before the Office. 37 C.F.R. § 11.7(a) The General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the Exam for Registration to Practice Patent Cases Before the USPTO provides all the necessary information about qualifying for the patent exam including requirements needed to meet the scientific and technical training standard.

What is the Patent Exam?

The exam is designed to test an applicant’s knowledge of patent laws, rules, and procedures as related in the MPEP (Manual of Patent Examination Procedure) and the ability to properly analyze factual situations and properly apply the patent laws, rules, and procedures to render valuable service, advice and assistance to patent applicants in the preparation and prosecution of their patent applications. 35 U.S.C. §2(b)(2)(D)

The exam is a 100 multiple choice questions administered in one day during two three-hour sessions. The exam is administered by a computer-based test delivery system. Test site locations are available at As an alternative, the US Patent & Trademark Office also administers the patent exam at the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia, on certain dates. Check the US Patent & Trademark Office for dates and times.

There is no filing deadline for the commercially administered i.e. the exams not given at the USPTO. However, an application for the patent exam administered by the US Patent & Trademark Office must be received three months prior to the scheduled exam date.

The Patent Exam does not qualify one to practice before the US Patent & Trademark Office in trademark cases.

Preparing for the Patent Exam

While they are not required, there are review courses available to aid in studying for the exam. Below are the links for some of the courses offered. BU Law does not endorse any specific course and applicants must make a decision based on their research and what is best for their situation.

The FAQs has answers to some common questions or check the USPTO website for additional information and updates to requirements or exam test dates or locations.